AFTER lying dormant for seven years the Sion Mills Ulster project is due to be resurrected.
Andy Patton who has been heavily involved in the project since it first began in Sion in the early 90s says he is “ecstatic” it is coming back to the village.
“I am over the moon to be able to say Sion Mills will have its own Ulster Project once again,” gushed Andy a local community activist.
“This is without doubt one of the best projects I have ever worked on.The last time we had the Ulster Project in Sion Mills was back in 2010. It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication over the past few years to get the project back on its feet locally.”
Set up during ‘The Troubles’ back in 1975 the Ulster Project – which is a faith based initiative – works with teenagers from the North and the United States, to educate them and develop them as leaders to effect change in their communities.
The project will enable eight local teenagers, four girls and four boys, half from a Catholic back ground and half Protestant, to travel to its host city Louisville, Kentucky where they will be paired with a teen of the same gender and live with their host families for one month.
During their time there the entire group will be involved in daily social activities, community service projects and worship services in different churches.
Two adult leaders will also accompany the group. In America a team of counsellors, teachers and other facilitators organise the activities and ensure the participation from all the group. The aim is to foster, encourage and develop a sense of empathy, respect and mutual understanding among the entire group.
“To have this project back in Sion Mills is absolutely brilliant,” continued Andy.
“Sion is such an integrated community and this is right along our lines. Young people are the future and what better way to encourage them than help them integrate, learn and understand other communities.”
The selection process for the project will be rolled out mid-December and Andy is encouraging local people to apply.
“In total we will be looking for ten people, two adult leaders and eight teenagers. Application shall be through the local churches and will go through a strict selection process. For anyone wishing to get involved or for more information please send a private message to the Joe Mills Facebook page.”