LOCAL young people have come together to mark a major milestone in their individual journeys as part of the Strabane AYE (Access Youth Engagement) Project.
Supported through the International Fund for Ireland’s Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP), the project works with marginalised young people who have grown up in deprived and disengaged areas of Strabane.
Targeting people who are most at risk from becoming involved in drugs or alcohol or paramilitary activity, Strabane AYE aims to offer life changing opportunities for its participants, allowing them to take control of their futures.
A range of initiatives are on offer for participants to learn real life skills that will help them in their pursuit of potential further education or employment.
The celebration event, which was attended by participants, local partners and the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Michaela Boyle, was held at Murphy’s on the Green and was an opportunity to mark the success stories of the participants, highlighting a range of their individual achievements.
Through this project young people learn the importance of inclusion, equality, diversity and work to develop themselves personally to make a helpful contribution to their local community.
Allen McAdam, IFI board member said: “It is very important that these young people reflect on the journey with this project, sometimes it is difficult to see how far you have come until you are with your peers and truly understand the impact it has had on your life.
“It is also important for the Fund to see the impact its funding is having on young people in local communities”.
The project was awarded £195,209 in November 2017 to deliver a two-year project, involving a range of good relations, personal development and further education/employability development skills.
Participants engaged in the project have passed their driving and theory tests, gained an entry level in essential maths and went on work placements with a number of businesses in the local area.
Project co-ordinator Roísín McGinley commented: “Over the last two years, our young people have overcome significant barriers to take part and complete this journey.
“It is sometimes not fully recognised how difficult it is for some of these young people to commit to taking part in something like this, especially when there are other pressures being put on them.
“Some of these young people have simply lost their way in life so our aim is to build resilience and confidence. We do mentoring, mediation, break down barriers and work closely with them to keep them on track."
The Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP) was launched in late 2015 within the International Fund for Irelands’ Community Consolidation - Peace Consolidation 2016-2020 Strategy.