A GROUP of young people from Newtownabbey have learned how to take up the reins of power to actively improve their local community.
Glengormley Irish language youth club Cumann Óige Chroí Éanna was one of a number of youth groups involved in the Partners in Power programme run by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF).
The forum recently celebrated the completion of the project, which enabled young people to play a central role in improving their local area and engage with authority.
The Partners in Power programme delivered training designed to fast forward young people into key decision-making roles within a range of grassroots organisations. It helped them develop key skills such as leadership, communication and organisational ability through a series of workshops and residentials.
The year-long project, funded by the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Northern Ireland, involved 170 young people and 89 adults from 16 different organisations.
Programme co-ordinator Claire King, speaking at a special celebratory event at the Oh Yeah Centre in Belfast, said the initiative had instilled confidence and belief in the young people involved.
“For many of these young people it is a new experience to have someone valuing their opinions and believing they have a positive contribution to make,” she said.
During the event, the NIYF unveiled a resource pack, Promoting the Voice of Young People, which will help other organisations not involved in Partners in Power to encourage young people from their areas to become involved in decision-making.
Sandara Kelso-Robb, executive director of the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Northern Ireland, said: “Partners in Power has been a great success. It has shown that young people are an important resource within communities and have a positive role to play.”
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, said: “The Partners in Power programme has shown adults how to engage directly with young people to make sure they have a stake in our society. It also shows that when young people’s views are listened to, they are keen to be involved in making practical decisions that make a lasting contribution to the community.”