Graduation Ceremony for Kilwilkie Youth Leadership Class of 2012

A group of young people from the Kilwilkie estate, Lurgan marked their completion of an innovative youth leadership project by taking part in a graduation ceremony at the Great Hall, Queen’s University Belfast on 25 April 2012.
The group of 15 young men and women, aged between 16 and 19 years, commenced the project in February 2010 and since then have completed a range of subjects, ranging from personal development programmes to digital media training.

The graduation ceremony is particularly special for the group, as many of them had dropped out of mainstream education and were identified as being vulnerable to engage in anti-social behaviour. Their participation and completion of the project has provided them with new opportunities and skills to increase their future career options. Local actor Dan Gordon presented them with the certificates while Junior Ministers Martina Anderson MLA and Jonathan Bell MLA and Lurgan MLA Dolores Kelly congratulated the young people on their achievements.

Following their graduation, the group will remain involved with the project and train as mentors for the next group of undergraduates from the Kilwilkie estate.
Mariead Maguire, who graduated from the course said,
“This has been an unbelievable experience and I would never have dreamt that it would ever happen to me. In fact the entire leadership project has been beyond my expectations. My plan now is to focus on getting more qualifications and getting a proper career.”

Peter Sheridan, Chief Executive Co-operation Ireland said,
“From the outset, our aim in introducing this project was to engage and nurture young people who have the potential to be future community leaders but who are seen to be vulnerable to involvement in criminal and paramilitary activity. We worked hard to develop a programme of activities that would suit their needs and give them something to hope for. They in turn totally engaged with the programme.

“We are delighted with how these young people have grown in maturity over the course of the past two years. They have gained new skills that have prepared them for further education and employment opportunities. They have become a credit to themselves and their community.”