The power of sport has brought schoolchildren in Ballymena together through an innovative Basketball Twinning Programme.
The programme engaged children from across the community, and participating schools included Ballykeel Primary, Camphill Primary, Harryville Primary, Mary Queen of Peace Primary, St Brigid’s Primary and St. Colmcille’s Primary.
Commencing in October 2018, all schools have taken part in six-week programmes of 90 minutes per session during which workshops addressed, good relations, antisocial behaviour, hate crime and personal health, and well-being.
Sessions have been carefully designed to help the children explore culture and identity through a series of activities which promote good relations and shared space. Opportunity was also created for children - who normally would not have met or interacted with each other – to come together and learn a new sport and discuss difficult issues.
Gary Boyd, Community Sports Development Officer for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, said: “This programme has been running for six years now and has been hugely successful in bringing school children from different backgrounds together.
“The curriculum which has been developed encourages children to ask questions about conflict and gives them tools they can use to understand conflict when they encounter it face-to-face. As a result they are better prepared to promote peace in their schools and communities within Mid and East Antrim.
“As well as learning the skills of basketball and keeping fit, the children have an opportunity to discuss topics like developing self-awareness, self-respect and self-esteem. There are also conversations around the meanings behind flags and symbols prevalent in our community, and the effects of treating and talking to people respectfully and responsibly.”