Teens from across Northern Ireland awarded for supporting the local community
A group of 250 young people from across Northern Ireland have been awarded with a certificate signed by the Prime Minister after graduating from the NI National Citizen Service (NI NCS) this summer, a youth empowerment programme in which they worked in groups to create a social action project to benefit the local community. Co-operation Ireland is the lead organisation delivering NCS in Northern Ireland.
The graduation ceremony, which took place at Crumlin Road Gaol, was held to commend the group for giving up their school holiday to spend four weeks on the NI NCS programme. On the programme they spent time living away from home, took part in outward bound activities and learnt key skills for work and life.
As part of the last phase of the programme, the teenagers developed their own social action projects around an issue they were passionate about in their local area. One of the teams, for example, hosted a skills day in for other young people to participate in workshops exploring the skills and learning, not necessarily covered in the school curriculum, that promote mental well being. The sessions included jiving workshops, alcohol and drug awareness, mindfulness, yoga and first aid training.
Niamh McGurn, aged 16, from Enniskillen, a graduate of the NI NCS programme said: “It was great to be able to meet up with my team mates again and remember the amazing experiences and time we had together on NI NCS. I feel like the people I met at the programme will be friends for life and we’ve all learnt so much – I’ll never forget my time here!”
During the graduation ceremony, teens were reunited with their teams to share memories of their experience on the programme before being presented with the certificate by Leo O’Reilly, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities, who fund NCS in Northern Ireland.
Leo O’Reilly, says: “In just a few short weeks this extraordinary group of young people achieved so much and this graduation ceremony was held as an opportunity to celebrate and thank them for all their hard work. We were really impressed with their social action projects and how enthusiastic they were about supporting the local community.
NI NCS is a once–in-a-lifetime opportunity open to all 15 to 17 year olds across Northern Ireland. It is a unique programme open to all Northern Ireland teenagers and is focused around fun and discovery, with participants volunteering at least 30 hours to a community project they create to address an issue important to them.
To find out more about the upcoming autumn programme in Northern Ireland or the 2017 summer programme, visit cooperationireland.org, or register for further info at ncsyes.co.uk