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Belfast activist Orla McKeating becomes first fellow from NI of Acumen Academy, the world’s school for social change

The Belfast woman is set to join prestigious international movement due to her work

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Proud: Orla McKeating is a life coach and single mum to Elliott

Proud: Orla McKeating is a life coach and single mum to Elliott

Proud: Orla McKeating is a life coach and single mum to Elliott

Storyteller and diversity activist Orla McKeating has become the first fellow from Northern Ireland of the Acumen Academy, the world’s school for social change.

Belfast life coach Orla (39) has been invited to join the prestigious international movement because of her wide-reaching work on diversity.

A single mum to Elliott (9) who is of mixed race, Orla decided to protect her son from stigma by setting up the Still I Rise Diversity Storytelling platform in 2019.

The group which started as a passion project soon grew globally and now offers story sessions, workshops, representation and diversity training for children and adults all over the UK.

Locally it was behind a number of events for Good Relations Week 2021 and International Day of Peace.

Orla now joins one of 20 bold social entrepreneurs who form part of the 2021 Acumen Fellowship in the UK.

The programme is dedicated to cultivating leaders tackling issues of poverty and injustice.

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The Fellows have been selected on their commitment to bridging societal divides and their vision to create a more just, inclusive and sustainable society for all.

The Fellowship means Orla will begin a year-long immersive leadership programme including in-person residentials, online workshops and peer practice designed to increase the Fellows’ capacity to create change.

She said: “I am beyond delighted to share this amazing news and super proud to be selected as the final 20.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to come together to re-imagine success and build solutions bred out of hope and possibility to empower our youth, stand with our vulnerable, drive inclusive business, protect our environment and bridge our divides.

“I look forward to bringing my learning back home through Still I Rise Story Telling and all my projects aligned with making the world a better place.”

With 700 Fellows and 500,000 course takers in 193 countries, the Acumen Academy community represents a new generation of leaders committed to doing what’s right in a world that loves what’s easy.

Director of UK Acumen Academy, Benjamin Lane, said: “If there is one thing the last few years have made clear it is this: we are one world — not just interconnected, but interdependent. Our collective future rests on ensuring that all of us can flourish and sustain.

“Fundamentally, Fellows understand that the challenges they are committed to solving are far too large and complex to be dealt with by any one individual or organisation, and are invested in navigating new ways to break down silos, build trust, mobilise collective action and develop solutions that tackle our toughest challenges.”

To mark Black History Month during October, Orla and co-founder of Still I Rise Diversity Story Telling, Anna Leckey will today host a free online Kids Race and Inclusion Workshop.

The event runs from 4pm until 4.45pm and is open to anyone at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/kids-race-inclusion-workshop-skin-tickets


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