Peace project celebrates children and young people
The OUR Generation project marked its official closure event on Thurs 25th May 2023, at La Mon Hotel. The event saw children and young people, staff and funders come together to celebrate the impact of the project during the last three years.
OUR Generation is a partnership project led by Action Mental Health, funded through the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The project has utilised almost €6.7m to build positive relations and emotional resilience in communities impacted by four decades of the Troubles across the island of Ireland.
Match funding for the project has been provided by The Executive Office in Northern Ireland, and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland (DRCD)
The project has been delivered in education, youth and community settings across the 5 Urban Village Areas of Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland, and the Border areas of Northern Ireland.
OUR Generation Project Manager, Carol Scullion, welcomed attendees and introduced the event. DRCD Minister Joe O’Brien recorded a special video message which was played as the opening address. SEUPB’s Interim Director of Joint Secretariat, Helen Donaldson attended and gave a short speech followed by Gareth Johnston, Deputy Secretary, The Executive Office.
The event featured presentations, including music and art, from project partners and children and young people who had taken part in OUR Generation programmes.
At the afternoon session, attendees heard from David Babington, Chief Executive of Action Mental Health, followed by Prof. Siobhan O’Neill of Ulster University, who delivered the closing remarks.
Over the past three years, OUR Generation has collaborated with existing community–based initiatives to offer accessible, age-appropriate prevention, early intervention and recovery activities. The project has also supported meaningful cross-border relationships and built on the good relations focus of the Urban Villages Initiative.
The partnership of seven organisations has shared EU PEACE IV funding to support communities to tackle post-conflict peacebuilding, and will run until 29th Sept 2023.
The partners are: Action Mental Health, Donegal Youth Service, Co-Operation Ireland, Youth Action NI, YouthWork Ireland, PlayBoard NI and Ulster University.
OUR Generation has now reached over 48,000 children, young people and the adults who support them.
Children and young people have engaged in programme design and delivery, including provision of peer support, developing skills and confidence to improve well-being within their communities, acting as agents of change, to build peace for future generations.
Reflecting on the important of the projects;
Minister of State for Rural and Community Development, Joe O Brien TD, said,
“I would like to congratulate all those involved in the design, delivery and successful implementation of the “Our Generation” project which was funded under the EU PEACE IV Programme, led by Action Mental Health, in partnership with Donegal Youth Service, Co-Operation Ireland, Youth Action NI, Youth Work Ireland, Play Board and Ulster University.
I am delighted that my Department of Rural and Community Development was able to provide funding and support for this very important and meaningful project, and that it has fulfilled its aims to build positive relations and emotional resilience in communities impacted by four decades of the Troubles.
We are dedicated to creating a shared and bright future for everybody, and this project encouraged greater levels of cross-community and cross border contact and intercultural awareness, which will help to build a more peaceful and cohesive society for future generations.”
Denis McMahon, Permanent Secretary in the Executive Office, congratulated everyone involved in the OUR Generation project, commenting: “The Executive Office is delighted to have been involved in the delivery of this fantastic programme through the Urban Villages Initiative. OUR Generation has built on and supported local Urban Villages projects, strengthening community-based services and enabling communities to tackle post-conflict peace building and mental health issues. It has encouraged greater levels of cross-community contact and intercultural awareness, which will help to build a more peaceful and cohesive society. Thank you to everyone involved.”
Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), said:
“The future of this region will be shaped by our greatest asset, our children and young people. The OUR Generation project is a shining beacon of how best practice can support future generations to be agents of change and contribute to a lasting peace.
“Each of us has a responsibility to ensure children and young people grow up in an environment where good mental health and wellbeing is central to their lives. This PEACE IV project is helping to create unique opportunities to build resilience and halt the impact of intergenerational trauma, which is a consequence of our shared history.”