Training future community leaders through sport and creative activities

Date published: 18 September 2018


Over 150 young people from across Northern Ireland came together today to launch this year’s Young Leaders Training and Ambassadors Programme.

Dame Kelly Holmes with a group of young people at the launch of this year’s Young Leaders Training and Ambassadors Programme
Dame Kelly Holmes with a group of young people at the launch of this year’s Young Leaders Training and Ambassadors Programme

The programme aims to create a group of highly motivated, skilled and socially responsible young people who are enthusiastic about driving forward positive change in their communities and in society.  It will be delivered on behalf of the Department of Communities by the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust in partnership with PeacePlayers International NI.

The launch of the programme in Belfast today involved young people from post primary schools across Northern Ireland who had the opportunity to try out a range of activities including Uni-hockey, African Drumming and Calligraphy while talking and learning about good relations and how they can help change their communities.

Speaking at the launch Leo O’Reilly, Department for Communities Permanent Secretary said: “The programme provides a new approach to developing the next generation of young leaders on a cross community basis.  It provides young people with skills and knowledge on how to deliver programmes in their local areas paving the way for a peaceful society using the mediums of sport, physical and creative activities.”

When the participants graduate from the programme they will progress onto Ambassador Level which is at a train the trainer standard. 

In attendance at the launch Dame Kelly Holmes, President and Founder, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust said: "I am very excited to be in Belfast today to help launch this year's Young Leaders Training and Ambassadors Programme. This is the first time my charity has worked in Northern Ireland and we are honoured to have this opportunity. Throughout the ten years of the Trust, we have always believed in empowering young people to become leaders in their communities and I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact these young people can have in the months and years ahead."

The programme has proven very successful with many positive impacts on both young people and their communities.  It also highlights a unique partnership with Peace Players International NI who bring immense expertise in terms of peace building and good relations techniques. 

Trevor Ringland PeacePlayers Chairman said: "At PeacePlayers we are really excited about this brilliant partnership with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.  The organisations share a common ethos and focus, which places the young people we work with at the centre of everything.  Through this project we will provide high quality training and experiential learning opportunities that will create a generation of constructive young leaders and ambassadors.  Graduates of the programme will emerge with the confidence, skills and importantly attitudes and attributes that will allow them to realise their potential as agents for positive change in their own areas and beyond."

The programme is currently operating in Erne East, Colin and Eastside areas of Belfast, North Belfast and Kilrea and Rasharkin.  Young leaders from 16 to 24 will be engaged in these areas and trained through the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and Peace Players International.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Northern Ireland Executive’s Together Building a United Community Strategy (T:BUC) was published on 23 May 2013.  This is part of DfC delivery model for the Uniting Communities through sport and creativity Programme which is one of the seven headline actions under Together Building a United Community 
  2. The Department for Communities leads on the development of a cross community youth sport, physical and creative activity programme. The idea for the TBUC Sport & Good Relations Programme was born out of that programme
  3. Media enquiries to DfC Press Office on 028 9082 3505 or email Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110
  4. About Dame Kelly Holmes Trust

    Every year Dame Kelly Holmes Trust gets thousands of young lives back on track. The charity achieves this by training and developing world class athletes to deliver personal, social and emotional development programmes for disadvantaged young people. Through transformational mentoring, young people become empowered them to realise the attitudes and behaviours needed to lead a positive life.

    The Trust’s programmes are proven to have a lasting impact on the lives of young people and enable them to become healthy, achieve in education, enjoy career success and take part in meaningful activities. Over the past five years their programmes have contributed more than £23million in social value to the UK economy. Visit the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust website for more information.

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