Community project builds brighter futures

Pictured are teenagers from the Roe Valley area who completed the Building Brighter Futures Project, a cross community project between Roe Valley Residents Association and Benbradagh Community Support.  Also included in the picture are Coleen Harkin, Denise Brolly and Cathy O'Kane, all of whom facilitated the project.

Pictured are teenagers from the Roe Valley area who completed the Building Brighter Futures Project, a cross community project between Roe Valley Residents Association and Benbradagh Community Support. Also included in the picture are Coleen Harkin, Denise Brolly and Cathy O'Kane, all of whom facilitated the project.

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Teenagers from Dungiven and the wider Roe Valley area came together this summer to learn about their history - and their shared future.

Twelve young people from Benbradagh Community Support in Dungiven and twelve from the Roe Valley Residents’ Association spent time together participating in a number of events as part of the North East Peace III Partnership’s Building Brighter Futures Project.

The group, aged 12-16, attended workshops and trips in a bid to form lasting bonds while learning a little bit more about their shared history, according to Youth Co-ordinator for Benbradagh Community Support, Colleen Harkin.

As part of the project they participated in a flags and emblems workshop at the Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre, facilitated by Lyn Moffat from Ballymoney Community Resource Centre.

“They explored their knowledge and feelings surrounding various flags and had the opportunity to design a flag which represented them. At a later date the children attended Dungiven Library for very informative and interesting discussions about the Orange Order and the Ancient Order of Hibernians,” said Ms Harkin.

Having found out a little more about each other’s history, the group visited the Bogside Artists for a tour of the murals in Derry, followed by a walk across the city’s Peace Bridge.

“Throughout the project, the group reflected on the common ground between both sides of their communities and took part in arts workshops to try and create a piece of work which reflected this,” said Ms Harkin.

Last Thursday at the final event, a cross community sports day in Dungiven, the group played rugby, soccer, hurling and gaelic, facilitated by Tommy Van Wyk, a former South African U21 Rugby player, and Colm Dillon from Derry GAA.

“It was here the group unveiled their artwork, a giant jigsaw piece to represent that although they are all different, they are destined to fit together perfectly.

“Within the jigsaw they had placed pictures of themselves depicting the hobbies they have in common,” said Ms Harkin, adding: “What was so encouraging about this project was as the weeks went by our numbers increased. This proved the kids were enjoying themselves and spreading the word among their friendship circles. I’m so proud of all the kids who took part for keeping an open mind, and I’m very grateful for Cathy O’Kane from RVRA for joining us on this project and making it a pleasure to deliver.”