Belfast Telegraph

Heroes get their skates on to build community spirit

by Fiona Rutherford

Local youngsters have given an icy reception to their peers from west Belfast and Finglas this week.

All is well though as the 34-strong group is taking part in the third cross-community and cross-border Giant

Sponsored by the George Best Foundation and Co-operation Ireland, HEROS (Hockey Education Reaching Out Society) uses ice hockey as a catalyst to bring young people together to develop greater understanding of themselves and each other.

“The George Best Giant HEROS Programme is as much about their personal development off the ice as their hockey skills on the ice. Everyone involved, from the youth workers and volunteers to their parents will see a big difference,” said Todd Kelman, Belfast Giants General Manager.

Mayor of Castlereagh, Councillor Vivienne McCoy welcomed the group to Dundonald and said: “We are glad to be involved again in such an innovative project, which will hopefully inspire young people to get active and involved in sport. I hope all the children enjoy their time on the programme and they can put their new skills into practice on and off and the ice.”

George Best Foundation Secretary, Barbara McNarry said that while the charity usually used football as the driver in its work towards giving young people the opportunity to learn and develop life skills in social inclusion programmes, they encouraged all sport. “The Belfast Giants HEROS programme fits perfectly with our aims and we hope that every young person gains from this experience and takes away positive messages from this unique project.”

Anne Anderson-Porter, Co-operation Ireland said the programme could change lives. “By developing the experiences of young people today, we will encourage them to move forward and help build a vibrant and peaceful society in the future.

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