In this week’s blog post, Chantelle Hutchinson, 16, from East Belfast, Northern Ireland, looks back on her journey as part of PeacePlayers.
Hi, my name is Chantelle. I am 16 years old from East Belfast in Northern Ireland. For many years I have been involved with PeacePlayers. I started as a young girl of only 7 years old learning how to play basketball. I am now a 16 year old with a passion for basketball that plays for Phoenix Basketball club and the Northern Ireland Academy.
Back in the day when I first started PeacePlayers, I was involved in the Community Centre League (CCL). Every Wednesday night we met with the other side of the city to play basketball, have community relations chats and activities, and bring peace to the four areas of Belfast divided by conflict between Protestants and Catholics. I am now involved with the Senior Champions4Peace (C4P) programme. Senior C4P aims to bring together young people aged 15-20 from all over Belfast to help promote peace and to become young leaders that are “Baggage free and Out of the Box”. I have also volunteered during the summer to coach at the Belfast Interface Games (BIG) and at Game of Three Halves events.
This week I have been doing my work experience at PPI-NI from 9am-5pm. I thought this would be a great experience to learn new things about PeacePlayers and also to coach young kids basketball instead of sitting in an office all day.
On Monday morning and throughout the week I have been attending many Twinnings between primary schools. At many of these Twinnings I have been coaching my own team and also doing community relations activities with the kids which is very similar to when I was there age. I also attended the Belfast Interface League- which is very similar to what I attended when I was a young girl- only it is more developed.
I first had to get on the very lively bus with kids jumping everywhere to take the East BIL to the West BIL. This was great fun and I met some really interesting and fun kids who just wanted to play basketball – just like myself when I was their age. I have also helped out around the office and learned what really goes on behind the projects and events to help make them possible. This was such a jaw dropping experience just to see all the planning that really goes on just to make one event happen.
Overall this week has been amazing and one that I won’t forget. I have gained many new skills and have helped me to improve on my coaching and working with kids and also it has made me realise all the goals that I want to achieve in life and in the future.