Amazing the Space is a youth-led peace-building initiative, funded by the Northern Ireland Executive Office that empowers young people across Northern Ireland, to become ambassadors for peace within their communities. The project enables young people to contribute to a more peaceful society, acknowledging that they can be key agents of change in their communities.
The Amazing Space project was launched in September 2017 by His Royal Highness Prince Harry at the MAC Theatre Belfast on Thursday 7 September 2017.
In the first year of the project, 409 schools submitted Peace Pledges articulating young people’s aspirations for a more peaceful society for themselves and their peers. These pledges were from both local and international schools around the world. Through the involvement of numerous large scale international organisations such as Generation Global, the Global Peace Foundation and the United Nations, the Amazing Space initiative has seen contributions from young people across the globe with the involvement of over 40 global communities sharing the voices and hopes of young people for peace from all over the world, including India, Indonesia, Japan, Brazil, Ukraine, USA, Jordan, Kenya and South Korea.
In 2018-2019 the initiative saw 5 regional cluster programmes involving over 100 pupils and 20 schools take place as part of the Amazing Space initiative. These regional programmes were co-ordinated by Co-operation Ireland and engaged young people in peace-building activities through the themes of sport, young people engaging with authority, culture and traditions and music.
Over 1,500 pupils both locally and internationally participated in Peace Pledge projects demonstrating how young people are promoting peace in their communities.
Download the Amazing the Space EBook
Regional Cluster Programmes
Amazing the Space has been co-ordinating a series of regional cluster programmes across Northern Ireland. These programmes aim to bring young people together from local schools to explore how young people can ‘live out’ their Peace Pledges. This year a series of regional programmes across Northern Ireland have encouraged young people to play an active role in bringing positive change to their communities.
The programmes will focus on bringing together young people from different backgrounds in their local communities to play an active role in promoting peace within their local region. In consultation with our youth-led steering committee the following themes were identified for Regional Cluster Programmes:
- A sports programme using sport as a tool for peace building, to enable young people to develop relationships with their peers from a different community, encourage teamwork and promoting communication. By helping young people from different community backgrounds develop these skills, these sports themed Peace Pledge Projects can help young people break down the community divide so often prevalent in our post-conflict society.
- A music programme, utilising the power of music to bring young people together from different backgrounds to develop their very own Peace Anthem. Since the first live event at Eikon Exhibition Centre in 2016 involving 5,000 pupils and 150 schools, the initiative has saw schools from across the island of Ireland take to the stage to take part in a wide range of performances including dance, arts, shared choirs, traditional music showcasing the wonderful sounds of both Ulster Scots and Traditional Irish music and even a few solo performances showcasing the talent of local performers.
- A culture & traditions programme providing young people with the opportunity to expand their awareness of a range of cultures and promote respect for diversity.
- An engaging with authority programme exploring the theme of young people and authority. This programme explores how young people can become ambassadors for peace by engaging with key decision makers. In 2018 young people from the Amazing the Space steering committee had the opportunity to work in partnership with Derry City & Strabane District Council to create a Youth Council in the region. This proved a big success, to date they continue to work with DSDC to advocate for young people in their local communities at decision making level by engaging in key representatives in their area.
Key elements of Amazing the Space regional programmes:
- Young people work alongside experienced facilitators to explore themes of peace, active citizenship and respect for diversity. Facilitators support young people to develop the skills required to become an ambassador for peace within their local communities.
- Young people work with facilitators to develop a post-training project showcasing the positive impact young people can have in their communities
- Young people engage with local influencers to demonstrate the importance of the voice of young people in the decision-making process both at a national and international level.
Schools participating in regional cluster programmes have the opportunity to link with other local schools in the area, promoting the concept of shared education. Through Co-operation Ireland’s partnerships with international organisations, each cluster programme has the opportunity to link with an international partner school to share the work they are doing to promote young people’s voice in peace building both on a local and international level.
The Peace Pledge Tree
In the autumn of 2019, we were delighted to unveil the Peace Pledge Tree in Ebrington Park, Derry-Londonderry. The unveiling ceremony brought together students from across the city and invited guests, including elected representatives, Senior Civil Servants, members of the business community, teachers and parents. Students read peace pledges and guests were treated to performances from a choir brought together from local primary schools, before the tree was unveiled by Mr David Sterling, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.
A celebration event to mark the unveiling of the Peace Pledge Tree was then held at the Foyle Arena in early December 2019. This event was attended by 400 students representing 17 primary and post-primary schools from across the province of Ulster. Students were entertained by musical performances from a choir brought together by Dr Nicola Herron and from solo artists Gary Nash and David James, as the journey of the Peace Pledge Tree and stories of how students have lived out their pledges on the Amazing the Space project were celebrated.
The tree was created by Donegal sculptor, Maurice Harron, and features over 400 peace pledges from our schools and pledges written by all 11 Councils in Northern Ireland. The Peace Pledge Tree now stands permanently in Ebrington Park and symbolizes the aspirations of our young people from all backgrounds, to see a peaceful and respectful society moving forward.
Amazing the Space 2019-2020
The Amazing the Space project continues to provide students with the opportunity to work together in peace-building programmes across the country. This past year , Co-operation Ireland has worked alongside regional cluster groups in Ballycastle, Ballymena, Ballynahinch, Bangor, Derry-Londonderry and Newry & South Armagh. Students worked together to explore peace-building through a number of programmes including learning about emigration and immigration, exploring different musical cultures and traditions, exploring issues of sectarianism through drama and the promotion of road safety in our streets and towns.
We look forward to continuing the work of Amazing the Space, providing opportunities to enable our students and young people to influence their peers and impact our communities in a positive way.