This OCN accredited programme, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of Ireland is the longest running of the Foundation’s programmes. Working with young people and young adults to develop their skills and understanding in relation to conflict and its non-violent resolution, the programme explores themes and topics ranging from international conflicts and sectarianism, to contemporary challenges such as racism and Islamophobia. The Foundation works to increase young peoples’ understanding of those issues which can divide or threaten to divide their own communities. A fundamental part of the programme is that participants spend time examining issues in their own communities and developing leadership skills to enable them to effect positive change.
The programme works with young people and young adults on two levels: Level one – 16-17years of age and level two – 18-26 years of age.
A level one programme took place over three long weekends with 20 participants from Ballymena (Northern Ireland), The Ballyogan Estate in Dublin and Bradford and Warrington in England who came together over the three programmes to work through subjects ranging from sectarianism to racism.
The residential programmes are highly participatory with participants engaged in activities ranging from games to listening to formal lectures or guest speakers. The programme saw activities including political tours of Belfast as the group visited the Falls and the Shankill Roads, and dialogue and discussion. Games and role play featured in the programme enabling participants to examine their own behaviours in relation to conflict – and to identify alternatives.
During the speaker sessions the group meet Colin and Wendy Parry who reinforced the importance of trust and understanding in peace building. Colin encouraged the group to ‘keep in touch’ and remember the experiences that they had shared – and to use these in whatever way they can to contribute to the achievement of peaceful communities.
Speaking of the programme Colin said: “The TPLD programme was the Foundation’s original and indeed, its only programme when it ran for the first time in 1996 under its original name of ‘the Tim Parry Scholarship’. It retains for Wendy and I, a very special importance and pre-eminence, not only because it carries our son’s name, but also because it directly challenges its participants to listen to and understand the views and beliefs of others, which very often, are in stark contrast to their own…this is how and where leadership is developed.”
“I learnt that in conflict things often don’t get resolved because of lack of communication and if people discussed their issues in an un-threatening way it will be a lot easier to confront and deal with the conflict- people need to talk!”
“I didn’t know anything at all about the history of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, so it has very much educated me and made me more aware of the situation.”
“I plan to put my views / ideas in action in my school. I want to do this because I want them to understand and learn about conflict resolution. I want my school / community to be friendlier and a better environment. I will spread my knowledge to others.”
“I’ll never forget the things I’ve learnt about leadership, I think these skills will stay with me forever.”
“Everyone should have the opportunity to participate in this programme as it teaches so many important facts, and the people you meet are amazing.”