This week’s featured organisation from the 4 Corners Networking events is the Ulster Project. The Ulster Project is one of the most long-standing groups involved in faith-based activism with young people. The scale of the project over many years is impressive, with the ripple effects generated by those who have participated in the programme spreading far and wide.
The Ulster Project
Contact – John Forsythe,firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ulster Project in Northern Ireland has been operational since 1975 and from 18 centres province-wide has engaged over 6,000 young people from both traditions. Placements are limited and hotly contested. There are five groups currently active in Belfast, drawing from the ‘four corners’ of our City and this year 62 young people with 10 leaders will travel to America.
For consideration of inclusion into the programme applicants who are 15 years old are required to demonstrate that they have made an active and positive contribution to the life of their Church, School or Community. Following acceptance they engage in a 6 month programme with an equal number of male/female, Catholic /Protestant team members who meet regularly to form bonding, cultural awareness and a positive appreciation of each other’s culture.
In America, they engage in a month long programme that involves sharing the life of an American family of their own religious denomination and a structured programme that includes in-depth reflection on the causes of sectarianism and racism, working with deprived communities in environments such as soup kitchens for the homeless, day care for the children of poor parents, and environmental projects. In addition, they experience various confidence building exercises. Needless to say they also are given time to sample recreational activities with white water rafting, cross country pony trekking, the opportunity to be involved in flying light aircraft, and theme parks.
The results of such generous opportunities are that these young people are imbued with a level of confidence that never leaves them, and they create enduring relationships. Participation as a ‘Member of an Ulster Project’ is not a ‘holiday’ – but a life-changing experience.
The Mission of the Ulster Project is to help young, Christian based potential leaders from Northern Ireland and the United States become peacemakers by providing a safe environment to learn by practicing the skills needed to unite people when differences divide them.
(Image from the Ulster Project website)