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Get Set for Community Action kicks off in Carrickfergus

By Ross Lawson

Published 21/09/2016

Get Set for Community Action group
Get Set for Community Action group
Daniel Ritchie

A Carrickfergus school pupil believes his participation in the Get Set for Community Action programme has not only seen him help others around him, but also strengthened relations within his own family.

Daniel Ritchie and other participants from YMCA Carrickfergus were involved with numerous projects.  This included organising a Rio-themed games night at a centre for adults with learning disabilities, in partnership with local organisation, Gateway.

Get Set for Community Action is a year-long UK-wide programme created by the British Olympic Foundation and British Paralympic Association, made possible thanks to a £2.1 million award from the Big Lottery Fund.

Each station was led by a student Action Lead, with more than 60 Gateway members joining in the fun.  This is  just one of many events which has seen YMCA Carrickfergus rewarded with a trip to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as one of six Get Set leaders.

The Get Set for Community Action programme saw more than 500 community projects take place across the UK in the run up to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  The programme showcased the work of more than 15,000 young people ‘Action Leads’ aged 14-19.

“There’s so much I’ve learnt, how best to organise myself, how best to lead and work as part of a team and building those relationships,” said 15-year-old Daniel.

“It’s given me everything. My dad’s in a wheelchair, and I’ve picked up a huge amount to do with disability from the Get Set scheme and I can apply that to my relationship with him.

“I’d always enjoyed pushing myself, and a youth leader encouraged me to take part, but I never thought it would lead to this. It’s been an amazing journey.”

For team co-ordinator Adam Hamilton, there is plenty of pride in the work undertaken, and the response the people of Carrickfergus have given to their projects.

He said: “We had 10 young Action Leads, and a lot of other people involved – it was all done by them and they’ve pulled it off fantastically.

“It’s changed these young people’s lives, they know how to plan, implement and pull off a project, and the confidence they now have is incredible.

“Everyone is now aware of Get Set in Carrick, there was a real buzz for the Olympics when we didn’t have that before, and everyone in the area is keen to find out how we’ve been getting on, and that’s brilliant.”

On hand for the celebrations was former sprinter Christian Malcolm as well as Dan Norton and James Rodwell, Olympic silver medallists with the Great Britain rugby sevens team in Rio.

“It was great to go around and see the different groups from all over the country and how they’ve supported the community, with a chance for us to share our Olympic stories,” said Norton.

“It brings everyone together. If it wasn’t for volunteers then we wouldn’t have been Olympic silver medallists, so we’re really grateful for them and it’s fantastic to see programmes like Get Set to carry that on.

“The Action Leads will be able to take a huge amount of skills from it, suitable for any role they go into, and their work ethic and enthusiasm will help them get to their end goal.”

Get Set for Community Action is a new UK-wide programme for young people and their communities created by the British Olympic Foundation and British Paralympic Association and made possible thanks to the Big Lottery Fund.

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