A group of young people and their team leaders were waved off by the Mayor, Councillor Michaela Boyle last Friday as they made their way to Belfast for a bank holiday weekend of fun and discovery of cultures at the Ganaway Activity Centre under the guidance of the North West Migrants Forum.
Travelling by coach, minibus and cars, over 60 young people from 11 post-primary schools, who had signed up earlier in the year through their schools, were led by 15 youth leaders from 10 different cultural backgrounds and five North West Migrants Forum staff members from three different cultures.
Throughout the weekend the youngsters took part in the Forum’s Let’s Talk Cultural Diversity project called ‘Discover, Connect and Belong.’ The project aims to stimulate discussions around respect, diversity, inclusion and acceptance of others.
The PEACE IV Thematic Youth Let’s Talk Programme is coordinated by Derry City and Strabane District Council and funded by the EU’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Match-funding was also provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
Speaking on Friday before their departure, Lilian Seenoi-Barr, Director for Programmes at the Forum said: “This is designed to stimulate new ideas on culture, religion, politics, communities and tribes in Northern Ireland.
“I believe by getting the children together in a neutral environment such as Ganaway we will reach out to young people from all backgrounds using a wide range of activities that can zone in on putting intercultural dialogue into practice.
“They also get to have fun too and that’s also important.”
She also thanked the Mayor for coming along, chatting to the participants and wishing them well on their weekend residential.
Activities throughout the programme included intercultural dialogue workshops; intercultural learning exchange trips; education visits to cultural museums, political and religious institutions; cultural celebration events and democracy discussion days – all leading to the residential weekend.