Teens pitch new ideas for a ‘youth friendly’ Derry and Strabane

Winners of the Design Thinking competition, local students Sean Kelly, Christopher McGrath, and James Burke, pictured with judges Thomas Moore, Tina Duffy, Emma Quinn and Ursula Doherty. Also pictured are Brian O'Neill and Carrie McCafferty, Enterprise NW.
Winners of the Design Thinking competition, local students Sean Kelly, Christopher McGrath, and James Burke, pictured with judges Thomas Moore, Tina Duffy, Emma Quinn and Ursula Doherty. Also pictured are Brian O'Neill and Carrie McCafferty, Enterprise NW.

A group of young people from across Derry and Strabane got together recently to come up with some creative solutions to the age-old problem of ‘having nothing to do’ as part of a special programme geared towards motivating and inspiring teenagers.

The PEACE IV Design Thinking initiative is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Participants in the Design Thinking Competition pictured with new Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, and Brian O'Neill from Enterprise NW. Included are Matthew Rutherford, Niamh Conwell, Elisha Martin, Erin McAleer, and Ella Doherty.

Participants in the Design Thinking Competition pictured with new Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, and Brian O'Neill from Enterprise NW. Included are Matthew Rutherford, Niamh Conwell, Elisha Martin, Erin McAleer, and Ella Doherty.

Being delivered by Enterprise North West in conjunction with the council, the PEACE IV Design Thinking programme complements the Youth 19 programme for Derry and Strabane.

As part of the scheme Enterprise NW delivered a series of workshops with the support of the North West Regional College’s Strabane Campus, to develop the young people’s skills in leadership and critical analysis. £10,000 was up for grabs for implementing the most creative solution and the participants pitched their ideas to a panel before the winning idea was selected.

The winning pitch was presented by young people Sean Kelly, Christopher McGrath and James Burke, who came up with a new concept for Strabane town centre featuring street art, planting, lighting and creative seating. The group hopes to create a safe inviting space for the young people of Strabane providing them with a sense of belonging and ownership within the community.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, said: “I was extremely impressed to see such creativity and innovation from our local young people. In my first few days in office I have had the opportunity already to meet some talented and inspirational individuals who are passionate about where they live and committed to making it a better place to live for future generations. Well done to the winners and all who took part – I look forward to seeing some of these fantastic ideas coming to fruition.”

Throughout the Design Thinking programme, young people worked together to analyse, assess and agree a range of new ways to get their peers active and involved.

Programme Lead with Enterprise NW Brian O’Neill, added: “We’re really excited by the quality of solutions developed as part of the Disrupt Design Thinking programme. As well as the final ideas and solutions it’s been a great opportunity for them to develop skills in leadership and critical analysis that will help embed social change and address a vital need in the social challenges that they identified. All the young people and teams involved were very dynamic and diverse and we are excited about working with all of them in the future to effect change in their local communities.”

Two other groups - Active Community Involvement and More To C More 2 Learn - were awarded runner up prizes, receiving a portion of their budget ask to enable them to deliver parts of their project proposals.

Participant Niamh Conwell said it had been a fun experience: “We’ve really enjoyed being part of the Disrupt project and we’ve found it beneficial in terms of our life skills, especially confidence.”