More than 40 young people from Lisburn, Belfast, Bangor, Holywood and Dublin took part in the cross-community HEROS programme at Dundonald International Ice Bowl recently.
The tenth year of the highly successful Giants HEROS programme included an energy-packed ice hockey camp and big game.
The programme aims to use ice hockey and other shared experiences as catalysts to bring young people together to develop their leadership skills and promote a greater understanding and respect for each other. It builds on a successful model developed by the youth partners; Crosscare, Army Welfare Services, Ballynafeigh Community Development Association and the DICE project, along with the international partners H.E.R.O.S Canada.
As part of this year’s programme, young people spent three hours each day on the ice with the Canadian HEROS volunteers as well as enjoying a number of other activities such as; assault courses, song writing, safety programmes, graffiti art and other workshops, all of which were based around the four HEROS behaviours – discipline, respect, listening and fun!
The Vice Chairman of the Council’s Leisure & Community Development Committee, Councillor Rhoda Walker, was delighted to host the ice hockey camp at Dundonald International Ice Bowl.
“The council was pleased to support the HEROS programme for the tenth year consecutive year,” she said. “The project has played an instrumental role bringing young people together to take part in positive activity which promotes a culture of teamwork and understanding for one another. I would like to thank the organisers and Canadian HEROS volunteers for delivering such an innovative programme which will hopefully have a major impact on the lives of these young people as they apply their new skills and experiences off the ice.”
Organiser Louise Little from North Down Community Network expressed her support for the programme, saying: “We are delighted to be working alongside Cross Care Finglas Youth Service, Army Welfare Services, Ballynafeigh Community Development Association and the DICE Project on this exciting project. The programme works towards giving young people a unique opportunity to learn and develop life skills in ice hockey while developing aspirations for themselves and building relationships between young people from different backgrounds. We hope that every young person gains from this experience and takes away positive messages from this unique project.”
Kevin Hodgson, HEROS Director of Operations, added: “We work with young people across Canada, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and we are delighted to celebrate the talent, skills and friendships being developed as a result of this programme.”