WATCH: Hundreds of Students Celebrate Shared Education at Amazing The Space Showcase

WATCH: Hundreds of Students Celebrate Shared Education at Amazing The Space Showcase

Fri 25 Mar 2022 by Co-operation Ireland

TITANIC BELFAST – Over 200 students were brought together by Co-operation Ireland, to hear from the man who spearheaded the IFA’s Football For All campaign, which transformed Northern Ireland international football.

The Amazing the Space Showcase at Titanic Belfast – our first large-scale, in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic – celebrated the achievements and collaboration of schools involved in the programme, who’ve led on shared education partnerships across Northern Ireland – projects which have focused on youth leadership, community engagement and sports leadership.

Speaking during a keynote address at the showcase, Co-operation Ireland CEO, Peter Sheridan, praised the work of schools, who collaborated on important shared education projects throughout the pandemic:

“Congratulations to all of the young people who took part in Amazing the Space 2022 and a special thanks to the teachers who helped make it happen.  I think all of us, young people and adults alike were delighted to be back meeting face to face, those of us who were there couldn’t help but be affected by the enthusiasm and buzz that was in the room.”

Peter Sheridan, CEO of Co-operation Ireland

The showcase also welcomed panel speakers, to discuss the importance of sport in bringing communities together: “Michael Boyd (Irish Football Association, Sport NI, Human Rights Commission), Richard Maguire (Founding Member of East Belfast GAA) and Nora Sullivan (T:BUC Young Ambassador) – hosted by compère and Northern Ireland Football Club legend, Gerry Armstrong.

Amazing the Space Showcase Panel (L-R: Richard Maguire, Nora Sullivan, Gerry Armstrong and Michael Boyd.)

Michael Boyd, who was part of the Senior Leadership Team for the Irish Football Association, spoke about the challenges he faced to tackle a culture of sectarianism when he joined the organization:

“When I took on my role at IFA twenty years ago, I was faced with significant challenges – at that time there were many anti-Catholic chants and songs that existed.  I was faced with the challenge of changing the atmosphere and making it better for everybody.  And I’m proud to say that we have made a change at Northern Ireland international football and the supporters have been absolutely at the heart of creating that change.”

Michael Boyd, Senior Engagement and Communications, NI Human Rights Commission

Michael also spoke about spoke about the work of the NI Human Rights Commission’s Sport and Human Rights Forum.

Trilingual logo of East Belfast GAA

East Belfast GAA, which was recently founded in May 2020, has broken new ground as the first GAA club established in East Belfast.  The clubs combines English, Irish and Ulster Scots in their trilingual motto Together / Le chéile / Thegither – which, according to club founder Richard Maguire, captures the ethos of the club, of bringing people from different community backgrounds together.  Acknowledging that East Belfast was not traditionally an area that the GAA was active, Richard spoke about the challenges faced in the early days of the club:

“As a founding member of the club, I remember back in the early days of the club, when we had just started, there was a guy protesting outside our club, which read: “No GAA in our area.”  I spoke with him that day and assured him that we are here to create sport opportunities for everyone in the community – I asked him that if he gives us a bit of time, he will see what we can do.”

Richard Maguire, Founding Member of East BElfast GAA

“We’re all about breaking down barriers at East Belfast GAA.  I’m pleased the say that the fellow who was standing outside the club protesting – well, his daughter is now playing a bit of hurling for the club and the man is now a firm supporter of the club.”

The final panelist, Nora Sullivan, addressed the importance of female representation and participation in sport, and spoke about how her involvement as a T:BUC Young Ambassador has given her great opportunities to get involved in a range of sports and to build friendships.

The Project Coordinator for Amazing the Space, Matt Gamble, said of the showcase: “We are delighted to once again host a Showcase event which brings our young people together to share in their experiences and to celebrate the achievements of their work across their regional projects. Co-operation Ireland will continue to build friendships among our young people through the Amazing the Space programme.”