Ice hockey ‘HEROS’ take to the rink

Dundonald International Ice Bowl has hosted the 15th year of the highly successful cross community HEROS Programme.

Over 50 young people participated in the weeklong event, which included an energy packed ice hockey camp and big game on the final day.

The programme uses ice hockey as a catalyst to bring young people together from Lisburn, Belfast, Holywood, Swords and Finglas in Dublin, and Kinloss in Scotland.

This year, the programme also included young people from Ukraine who had been displaced due to the ongoing conflict at home.

Councillor Aaron McIntyre, Chair of the Leisure & Community Development Committee drops the puck to the start the Big Game at the finale of the HEROS programme at Dundonald International Ice Bowl

The aim of the programme is to use sport to develop leadership skills amongst the young people and promote a greater understanding and respect for each other.

This highly successful model was first established in Canada 20 years ago and has helped develop life skills and empower over 17,000 young people since its inception in 2000. This success has been mirrored in Northern Ireland through the HEROS Programme.

Chairman of the Council`s Leisure & Community Development Committee, Councillor Aaron McIntyre was delighted to host the ice hockey camp at Dundonald International Ice Bowl.

“The Council was pleased to support the HEROS programme for another year and welcome the young people, coaches and volunteers to our ice rink in Dundonald,” said Mr McIntyre.

“It was fantastic to see so many young people taking part in the big game at the end of the week to showcase their new skills in front of family and friends.

“It was especially encouraging to see the young ones from Ukraine, who are now living in Dublin, getting involved too.

“Sport plays an important role in bringing young people together to take part in positive activity which promotes a culture of teamwork and understanding for one another.

“I would like to thank the organisers and Canadian HEROS volunteers for delivering such an innovative programme which will hopefully have a major impact on the lives of these young people as they apply their new skills and experiences off the ice.”

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On behalf of the youth partners, Natalie Trainor explained: “The programme works towards giving young people a unique opportunity to learn and develop life skills in ice hockey while developing aspirations for themselves and building relationships between young people from different backgrounds.

“The programme has been running for 15 years and we are delighted to celebrate the talent, friendships and skills being developed as a result of the programme.

“We hope that every young person gains from the experience and takes away positive messages from this unique project,” she concluded.