PPI-NI: A Parent’s Perspective

This week, Project Coordinator Joanne Fitzpatrick talks to a parent of two PeacePlayers participants about her understanding and experience of PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland (PPI-NI).

Joanne: “Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?”

Diane: “My name is Diane Folland and I live in Ballysillan, North Belfast. I am a mum to four children, three boys and one girl. The two older boys attended Carr’s Glen Primary School on the Oldpark Road where they both took part in the PeacePlayers programme. They were taught how to play basketball and to interact with the other pupils they came in contact with.”

Joanne: “How did you first hear about PeacePlayers International?”

Diane: “I remember Karl, who is now 15, going to his first PeacePlayers event outside of school.  He was the only one that turned up out of his school and when he got there he met two other people.  He wasn’t put off by this and continued to get involved through school.  Calum had more success with PeacePlayers.  He loved going to different schools and venues and was always ready to be at the forefront. He even was in the Lord Mayors parade one year with the PeacePlayers coaches. He attended Jingle Ball when he was in year seven at Stranmillis College and he loved it. Calum was very disappointed when he couldn’t continue on with PeacePlayers when he reached year eight and moved to secondary school.”

Joanne: “What were your first thoughts on your children taking part in a cross-community programme and have they changed at all since then?”

Diane: “I had no qualms about either of my boys getting involved in cross-community activities, and this was a good way of mixing with the ‘other side.’  We don’t really get to mix with other communities very much.  I found this when I was growing up. I have never brought my children up to be sectarian and am pleased with their PeacePlayers participation.”

PeacePlayers coaches and participants walk in a 2011 parade in Belfast City Centre.

Calum (pictured centre, on top of former fellow Rory O’Neil’s shoulders) at the Lord Mayors parade in 2011

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Karl (pictured on the right in the checked shirt) at North Belfast Interface League-Senior Programme in Holy Trinity Church Hall.

Joanne: “What do you see the benefits being of your children being involved in the PeacePlayers programmes?”

Diane: “Karl, after much persuasion, attended the 6-week course in Holy Trinity on the Oldpark Road. There were many cultures and religions at this PeacePlayers programme, which he hadn’t come in contact with before. But now? I can’t keep him away! He absolutely loves it and has made a lot of new friends. All of whom I suspect are now his friends on various social media sites.”

Joanne: “Would you encourage other parents to get their children involved?”

Diane: “I would encourage any parent to let their child at least have a chance of experiencing PeacePlayers. I can’t wait for Calum to turn 14, then he will be able to experience PeacePlayers on a different level.”

Joanne: “Thanks Diane and one final question, what is PeacePlayers?”

Diane: “From what I’ve been told, sweet to the beat!”

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