Belfast Telegraph

Friday 9 October 2015

Schoolgirl (15) ‘has helped make Lower Ormeau safer’

by Fiona Rutherford

Published 10/03/2011

A 15 year old south Belfast girl was among those to be praised for their contributions to local society at a City Hall awards night last week.

The annual Young People’s Awards reward under-21s who are involved in projects that are helping to transform Belfast.

Among those receiving awards were teenagers who engaged with older generations to help reduce anti-social behaviour, and young people who have been raising awareness about racism and bullying.

City Hall was turned into a ‘Big Top’ for the night as circus acts entertained the young people in the event organised by Belfast City Council in partnership with its Youth Forum, Belfast Community Safety Partnership, Thomas Devlin Trust, Youth Justice Agency and Belfast District Policing Partnership.

Lord Mayor, Councillor Pat Convery, said: “I have been truly impressed by some of the stories I’ve heard from these young people, who are all worthy winners. Their efforts are inspiring and prove that you are never too young to make a difference, not just in your own life, but in the lives of others. The fact too that some of the young people here tonight had the courage to acknowledge that they were perhaps on the wrong track and took the decision to turn things around for the better is really encouraging. They deserve recognition for the hard work they’re putting into brokering a sense of community spirit in their areas.”

Fifteen year old Patricia Magee won the gold award for south Belfast for her contribution to Lower Ormeau Residents’ Action Group (LORAG)'s Youth Project.

Four nights a week she helps out at the youth club and has set up drug and alcohol awareness, bullying, health and wellbeing, and personal and social development programmes for her peers.

“Through her enthusiasm and hard work she provides a wonderful example for the whole community and has helped to make her community a safer place,” said the judges.

The south Belfast silver winner was St John Vianney Youth Club.

This group of young people from Lower Ormeau worked with Shankill Church Army to explore areas of sectarianism and community safety through group work, educational visits, and historical and cultural residentials. Through their example they've increased awareness and understanding of other communities within their own community and have provided many opportunities which otherwise wouldn't have been possible.

Joseph McCall and Sean Rooney from west Belfast received the Outstanding Achievement Award and £1,000 after they started two football teams to get youths off the streets.

Translink Youth Forum won the Thomas Devlin Award for its drama and workshop for schools dealing with bullying and anti-social behaviour on public transport.

Penny Holloway from the Thomas Devlin Trust said: “We thought this was a very exciting and original project, and was proof of just how creative young people can be.”

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