Over 400 local pupils celebrated the installation of the Peace Pledge Tree in Ebrington Square at a special event last week.
The event, which was held in the Foyle Arena, saw pupils from nine Derry schools come to together with those from other colleges from across the North and the border counties to commit themselves to working for peace in their communities.
It was part of the ‘Amazing the Space’ programme, funded by The Executive Office, and organised by Co-operation Ireland and the Rev. Dr. David Latimer.
The event allowed the young people to celebrate the recent installation of the Peace Pledge Tree in Ebrington Square.
The tree’s leaves carry peace pledges written by the local schools and its unveiling marks the end of three years of work by the young people.
St. Joseph’s Boys’ School, Lumen Christi College, Thornhill College, Foyle College, St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s College, Claudy, St. Columb’s, St. Mary’s College, Ardnashee School and College and Oakgrove Primary School all took part in the event.
All the main churches were represented at an Amazing the Space event held in the Maze in 2017 and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex lent their support to the project by attending in 2018.
Dr. Mark Browne, Director of Strategic Policy, Equality and Good Relations at The Executive Office said he was delighted to be part of the celebration event.
“Projects such as ‘Amazing the Space’ are a vital part of our journey towards realising a truly shared and united community. It is important that our young people are given the space and support they need to learn about each other, to challenge any misconceptions and to build long lasting friendships based on mutual respect and understanding,” said Dr. Browne.
He said that seeing the pledges in their permanent home was a ‘proud moment’.
“Through this project they have created heartfelt pledges of peace, marking their commitment to peace building and to working together. To see these pledges now placed, in their permanent home at Ebrington, part of a Shared Future infrastructure and the Pathway to Peace, is a proud moment, and a testament to the Executive Office’s commitment to peace-building.”
Dr. Christopher Moran, Chair of Co-operation Ireland said the organisation was ‘hugely proud’ of the Amazing the Space project.
“The installation of the Peace Pledge Tree means that all the young people’s hard work will be remembered forever in the city where it was first established.”
Dr. David Latimer, who founded the Amazing the Space project, said the Peace Pledge Tree will be a ‘beacon of hope’.
“Young people, wherever they’re living, hope for a world free of poverty, inequality and exploitation. They want a world free of discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, creed, language and gender.
“Our young people, with their vibrant ideas and clear perspectives, can reveal a better path. Their words and wisdom, displayed within The Peace Pledge Tree, can be a beacon of hope that will inspire many to turn their dreams of peace to reality.”