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Strabane and Donemana young people complete cross community peace building project

19 January 2021

Local young people from different backgrounds have completed a Peace IV project where they learned more about each other’s cultures. 
The Strabane-Donemana Youth Cultural Awareness Project is part of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s ‘One Community’ Programme and was supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body under the Building Positive Relations Theme.
It was co-ordinated by the Melmount Community Forum and saw the young people engage in a wide range of peace building and educational activities in different venues across Ireland.  
The key theme in the project was the examination of cultural diversity and the demystification of each others’ cultures.
Martin Gallagher, Good Relations Community Planning Co-ordinator at Council, said the programme exposed young people to aspects of each other’s culture that they hadn’t been aware of previously.
“This has been a very successful project,” he said. “Young people from Strabane and Donemana have been able to jointly explore cultures and traditions with which they were not formerly familiar. 
“It has enabled young people to look at Good Relations issues and learn about how communities are dealing with them in a very positive manner and allowed them to engage in discussion about their own experiences.”
The young people visited cultural facilities which resulted in a journey of learning about various cultural traditions. 
They visited Dublin where they had guided tours of Croke Park and the Waxworks and also visited Belfast where they took part in guided tours of Crumlin Road Gaol, the Falls and Shankhill areas and the PEACE Lines with talks given on site by local community leaders.
The participants learned from first hand sources much about how the Troubles had affected Nationalist and Unionist communities in Belfast and how the communities were now rebuilding in the aftermath of many traumatic events .  
The group also took part in two good relations seminars facilitated by a local community leader who was experienced in the field.
Other visits included Magilligan Prison, The Walled City Tattoo, The Ulster Rugby Ground and the Tyrone GAA Centre at Garvaghy.
The visits were very informative for the participants with many learning about elements of the other community’s traditions for the first time.  
The feedback from the young people was very encouraging with many queries from them about the various cultural elements. 
With the onset of COVID-19 the programme had to be amended to allow for it to be delivered safely and a media project was added where the community sector’s response to COVID-19 would be recorded. 
As part of the project young people were trained in media skills so they could go out and record for posterity the community’s amazing response to the pandemic in the Strabane and Donemana areas.
A DVD was created which will be distributed through community organisations and uploaded online.  
This element of the project also helped skill up the participants and was beneficial to their mental health during these stressful times. 
It also helped to develop their peer leadership skills, build confidence as well as enabling them to use their creativity to build better cohesion between the communities.