This week’s blog is written by Jazz Bishop, International Fellow at PPI-Northern Ireland.
Last Saturday, 4th March, over 40 PeacePlayers participants gathered together for the Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) Camp Reunion. This event highlighted youth summer camps sponsored by Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM). The purpose of the summer camps were to contribute to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united shared society. From an African drumming session to a Bollywood dance workshop, the event truly celebrated diversity in Northern Ireland.
To give you a quick recap – T:BUC funded our Camp Beta where we had our first ever monitoring & evaluation training with our participants and our first ever youth-led evaluation thereafter. Our BIG Camps also known as the Game of 3 Halves (GO3H) where governing bodies coaches from the International Football Association (IFA) Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), and Ulster Rugby spent three days with our participants sharing the culture of the 3 traditional sports in Northern Ireland. The fourth half in the camp, participants took part in activities and discussed community relations topics such as prejudice and diversity in Nothern Ireland.The camp culminated with a Flagship night which brought together PeacePlayers participants alongside our participants from the PPI-DC Leadership Development Programme in their integrated teams from all sides of the city to compete
OK Fast forward to Sataurday! ——>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Reunion Event was filled with fun and games for everyone. We started the morning listening to participants from all of the different T:BUC camps as they were interviewed about their experiences at the camps. Maud Tinsley and AJ Mcminn from our Senior Champions4Peace programme represented PeacePlayers and shared with everyone what it was like to be a Champion4Peace. They both represented PeacePlayers very well as they spoke in front of the large audience.
After the interviews and welcome speeches, we broke out into three different groups so that we could split up the day. In the first session, we were in the “Discover Zone”, which consisted of a lot of sports activities such as Rugby, GAA (Gaelic Sports), disability sport NI. I tried Hurling during this session. I was never very good at softball-type sports so I was even given a smaller stick thinking it would help me to hit the ball better. It didn’t help. One of the participants, Sam Keery told me how he had the privilege of meeting a professional Rugby player. That seemed to be the highlight of his day. I was happy to see the pleasure it brought him to meeting the Rugby player. Sam was extremely excited. It seemed to have made the day complete for him.
After the “Discover Zone,” we moved on to the “Live Zone.”In this session, there were Chinese dragon lion head martial arts, dance and a Bollywood dance workshop. Of the Live Zone activities, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the Bollywood dance workshop the most. Some PeacePlayers participants even dressed in traditional Bollywood clothing. One of our participants, Gary Duffy volunteered to get on stage with the instructors. I was a little surprised that Gary did this because Gary is normally very shy and reserved. It was great to see him having a blast dancing up there. It demonstrated to me how much his confidence has grown just in the short time period that I have been involved with PPI. Great job Gary! Yes, I too, even took part in some of the dancing. I figured if I can get up there, a girl with absolutely no rhythm what so ever, then it would encourage all other participants to get up and join in on the fun as well. Everyone had a blast!
In the last station, we got to partake in what was called the “Active Zone”. In this zone, there were quite a few team building activities that included some inflatable games and a farm/petting zoo. I was going to attempt some of the inflatable games but I think all of the kids had the same idea and the lines were extremely long so I stepped back since the day was for the kids after all. However, I was able to go out and pet some of the animals that they had. There was a llama, some goats, sheep, rabbits, and even a wallaby. The wallaby was very cool to see. At first, everyone thought it was a baby kangaroo, but the handler corrected us.
All in all, the day was a great fun for everyone involved. The kids appeared to be
having a blast all day long, which was great to see. I’m glad I was part of it as all well. It truly was a wonderful event. Being able to see the smiles on all of the participants’ faces was amazing and made the day complete for me.
Thank you to T:BUC for putting on such a great event! If you missed our Instagram Stories on the day off, we have included a compilation video below. Be sure to follow our Instagram handle @PeacePlayersIntl and LIKE our Facebook Page — (facebook.com/PeacePlayersNI)