It has been described as a “story which is being written” but a new initiative aimed at bringing a positive future to Derry is already making a huge impact on local young people.
School children from eight local secondary schools were among guests invited to the official launch of the ‘Bright Brand New Day’ programme at First Derry Presbyterian Church on Wednesday - which has at its core the desire to create a lasting peace coupled with a forgiveness and understanding of the past.
Steering the group are 12 local people, among them Rev. David Latimer who told the audience of assembled guests that they would work from the grass roots to “step out of the old and into the new”.
Adding that we “have more to unite us than divide us” Rev. Latimer said that while “no one can do everything, everyone can do something”.
The Bright Brand New Day project, which will run alongside the City of Culture programme, will seek to engage local communities through a number of events - including workshops, seminars and community programmes.
Rev. Latimer revealed a programme of events which will include input from the First and Deputy First Minister, the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI and renowned human rights campaigners and peace workers.
The project also hopes to work alongside the PSNI in communities such as Creggan and the Bogside so that “the dissidents can be starved of oxygen”.
In addition the World Peace Flame Foundation have put their support behind the ‘Bright Brand New Day’ project and the World Peace Flame will be lit in the city in May of next year.
The project also has the support and backing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was quoted by Rev. Latimer when he said: “Forgiveness is the richest kind of healing balm”.
“We are on a shared path together. No one will be excluded from this process. What we want to achieve is to shape a feeling of peace, security and safety for all the people of this city.”
Community worker Eamon Deane also addressed the audience of around 500 at First Derry. He said the project was most definitely not aligned to any political party but would rely on the support from all political persuasions to work towards achieving their goal.
He added the the Bright New Day Project sought to engage as many people as possible from around the city “especially those whose voices may not have been heard before,”
Mr Deane said he was confident the process wil “celebrate the extraordinariness of the ordinary people in the city”.
Adding to the proceedings were school children from the Foyle Contested Spaces School Choir, which included pupils from Holy Child PS, St. John’s PS, Lisnagelvin PS and Ebrington PS.
Amongst those in attendance at Wednesday’s launch were Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, the Deputy Mayor of Derry Mary Hamilton and local clergy.