It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of James McGeown on Tuesday 16th April. James had suffered from asthma all his life but it had not held him back from enjoying life to the full.
As a graduate of the North Lurgan Youth Leadership Programme he had graduated last spring and was working with the junior group as a peer mentor. He was a super role model for the younger group to look up to. Smart, witty, full of facts on every subject, he was warm and compassionate a real people person. Because of his love for exotic animals we had spent him off for work experience in Sea World in London, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed and which had inspired him to gain the qualification he needed to continue his studies. Like all the group the young leaders are dedicated to improving not only their own lives but those of all the young people in Kilwilkie estate. James was working with the group to organise a community festival to be held in August this year. The short life of James will I know inspire other young people in the area to embrace opportunities, share the joy of life and give a helping hand to others along the way.
The Youth Leadership Programme was established to help build positive futures for young people who have the potential to be leaders in their community but vulnerable to involvement in high-risk and criminal activity. Co-operation Ireland is currently delivering two Youth Leadership projects, one in the Kilwilkie area of North Lurgan and the other in the Greater Shantallow area of Derry/Londonderry. The programme aims to divert participants from crime and anti-social behaviour by providing them with a support structure to address personal and social challenges in their lives. Key outcomes include personal development, building pathways to further education/employment, and promoting belonging and participation in the wider community.