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The BOSS Project

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The B.O.S.S project was a summer youth intervention project which Craigavon Intercultural Programme delivered in partnership with two local youth clubs in Portadown during July & August. B.O.S.S is an anagram for the three participating clubs, Ballyoran Community Association, Oasis Youth Project and Scotch Street Youth Club. The project provided diversionary activity for 50 young people over a eight week period and aimed to improve cross-community and cross-cultural relationships.

The B.O.S.S project was developed as a result of a successful outdoor adventure day that was coordinated by the local PSNI Policing in the Community team in May. The eight week project was coordinated by the youth leaders from each club who developed a strong team spirit alongside a committed group of volunteers from different backgrounds.

The project included a series of workshops that explored key issues in the lives of young people from the communities involved, these included useful and honest discussions regarding perceptions of issues such as flags, parades, racism, sectarianism and public safety. The teenage participants also engaged in a range of team-building activities convened in the respective youth centers. Relationships were enhanced by day trips to Belfast, Scotland, Dublin and a weekend residential at the Shannaghmore Adventure Centre in Newcastle.

Even though the young people were drawn from diverse religious, political and cultural backgrounds, they were observed forming new friendships across community divides. Oasis Youth Inclusion Officer, Andrew McCreery said, “the amazing thing about this project was that from the beginning, the young people engaged in all activities in a very natural and meaningful way. Quite often as leaders we find ourselves stimulating debate artificially. However, we discovered very quickly that these young people were prepared to put key differences aside, work together, learn from and build sustainable friendships with each other”.

Katie, one of the participants said, ‘As a result of the B.O.S.S. project I am more likely to mingle with people from a different religion, I previously thought people from the ‘other community’ caused the riots, now my perceptions have changed.’ Comments from other young people include; ‘B.O.S.S gave me something to do over the summer and I mixed with people that I would not have done so before’. ‘I changed my opinion about people from different countries, they’re so dead on’. ‘It’s OK to have friends who are Protestants, Catholics or from an ethnic minority’. ‘As a result of the project I am more likely to become friends with people from a different community, culture and religion.

The leaders of the three clubs are currently looking at ways to develop a new programme of work that will build on the foundation created by B.O.S.S. and expand the positive impact that the project generated.

The B.O.S.S team would like to thank all who made a contribution to this very successful project, including SELB Youth Intervention, Craigavon Borough Council, Good Relations, PSNI and BBC Children in Need.