This week’s blog is written by PPI-NI International Fellow, Sally Nnamani.
New Year. It is a time of reflection. There is something about the passing of one calendar year to the next that causes one to reflect on all the moments of the past year, both the highlights and the challenges, and to plan for the future. I’ve done this both on a personal level and very excited about embarking on this process with the PPI-Northern Ireland team and board member at our Strategic Planning Meeting coming up this month.
Wrapping up 2016, we posed five big picture questions which Gareth, our Managing Director discussed in a previous blog. The team, our Board, and participants in our Leadership Development Programme (Senior C4P’s) were tasked with sharing ideas on how we can steer growth and expansion in Northern Ireland and barriers that might inhibit this process.
A recurring theme in the responses to the big picture questions was the importance of influencing institutional level change through (1) partnerships with local councils; (2) joint campaigns with politicians, (3) Providing training and a model for educators and sporting bodies delivering community relations through sports programmes.
Partnerships with Local Councils
PPI-NI partnered with Mid Ulster District Council to train 15 young people from Magherafelt, Dungannon, and Cookstown areas who will in turn, support the delivery of PeacePlayers Twinning programme in their council area starting this month. Last November, those young people took part in our Promoting Diversity Through Sport Level II OCN. I had the pleasure of leading and delivering this OCN as I learned more about the growing diversity in Northern Ireland. More than half of the participants in the OCN were of Portuguese and East Timorese descent.
Joint Campaigns with Politicians
We are partnering with PoliticsPlus, a professional development organisation for elected representatives in the Northern Ireland Assembly. The purpose of this partnership is to provide a unique opportunity for Junior Members of the Legislative Assembly (Junior MLA’s) to engage with young people from the communities they serve in a mutually-benefiting mentoring relationship. Politicians and C4P’s will work together in working groups to plan and deliver a campaign championing the power of sport in transformational change. The Champions for Peace Campaign will highlight what can be achieved through sport in terms of building positive relations and celebrating diversity. The campaign will focus on working with sporting organisations and involve sports celebrities in promoting the simple yet powerful message that “children who play together can learn to live together.” I am particularly excited about this project because it would increase our visibility while supporting the leadership development of our participants.
Training Training Training!
Gareth has this saying — “we are in the business of doing ourselves out of business.” For over a decade, PPI-NI has established its reputation as the go-to organisation for community relations and peace building through sport work in Northern Ireland. As more organisations adopt our approach, the greater our impact and reach. In March, Debbie, Our Operations Leader and I will be leading a teachers training with St Oliver Plunkett & Derryhale schools in Armagh as part of the Northern Ireland Shared Education Programme. The training will equip teachers with the knowledge and resources to successfully run a PeacePlayers Twinning Programme at their schools.
We are excited for the future and working with our stakeholders to further realise the potential for sport for institutional change to make Northern Ireland even better. We are a small team, but our reputation is strong and our message is mighty, sure who wouldn’t want to support children and young people coming together to play, learn, and dream together.