This Project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 and the Department for the Economy
Dean is a 25 year old man from the Upper Springfield Area who is currently engaging and volunteering with Active Communities Network. The last number of years have been traumatic for Dean and his family as they have endured so much personal loss through car crime and suicide. He left school with little or no academic qualifications and this has impacted on him and his ability to read and write. At present he is currently doing a VRQ level 2 qualification.
Dean has now immersed himself in a key volunteering role with an at risk group of young people in his local area with his ACN mentor. He is also organising a city wide boxing tournament with young people as a part of their social action. Dean also expresses that he wants to do essential skill courses in English and Maths when he completes the VRQ so we will source this training and put this in place for him.
We’re so proud of everything we have achieved in Belfast over the past eight years. We set up a pilot programme in 2009 called GOALS (Generating Opportunities and Learning Through Sport), working with a small group of high risk young people in Ballymurphy and Whiterock (West Belfast).
Through sport we developed their resilience and addressed wider mental health issues, supporting them to make positive life choices. The project was subject to an impact report by the University of Ulster, which praised our approach and methodology.
This gave us the confidence we needed to significantly grow ACN’s presence across West, North and East Belfast. Starting in 2011, we began to target areas of high tension and deprivation, combined with a lack of sports provision for young people. We found examples of teenagers living in chaotic circumstances without positive role models and opportunities to achieve.
Using our delivery model we began to gain the trust of communities through the provision of activities 50 weeks of the year. In April 2015, with the help of our supporting partners, we replicated this approach in Portadown, Coleraine and Omagh.
Since 2016 our delivery in Belfast can boast a city wide delivery model thanks to our funders and network of community partners across Belfast. We continue to develop programmes within NI and ROI with an ever growing recognition of the Sport for Development methodology underpinning positive outcomes for young people
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Megan got involved with Active Communities Network though a female only football programme back in 2013. Megan soon became a regular attendee and it was soon noticeable that the group would benefit from a more intensive issue-based programme which ran alongside the physical activity.
Prior to joining ACN Megan was involved in high risk behaviour and was seen to be getting in with the wrong crowd. Megan initially joined the programme with the idea to keep fit and to be part of a wider community, but she soon realised it would develop to be much more.
Megan continued to excel in many different areas showing real strength in leadership, communication and volunteering. Megan went on to complete multiple accredited training qualifications and with a new-found confidence and experience Megan decided to pursue a career in sport for development. Megan is currently studying for her degree at Gloucestershire University with ACN which she hopes will lead to a full-time job as a coordinator. Through completing her journey Megan has become a role model for young people across Belfast, with a real focus on females and sport.