National Citizen Service brings people together for Cornfield tree planting
Tue, December 19, 2017
Young people from Coleraine have inspired a unique tree-planting initiative in the town.
The ‘InTREEgration’ project formed part of the National Citizen Service (NCS) scheme, which gives teenagers an opportunity to build skills for employment.
Some participants had previously taken part in the ‘Xuberance’ Good Relations programme, funded by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. Facilitated by outdoor adventure company Far and Wild, the young people became aware of the links between the natural environment and the people living in it and using it. It was this mind-set, connecting the common issues that we all face, that led to the development of the tree planting project,
Earlier this month, over 40 people of all ages gathered at the Cornfield site near Millburn and Ballysally to plant 1500 trees.
Darragh Graham of NCS at St Columb’s Park House explained: “Due to their good relations training, the team were acutely aware of conflict in society and how some people can be left out or ostracised – or even targeted by others due to their beliefs or due to the lives they were born into. The team wanted to bring some of these people together to do something meaningful, so they invited various community groups that represent different segments of society to participate in a project designed to address some shared environmental concerns.”
Brendan Patterson of the Cornfield Project added: “We were delighted to partner with National Citizen Service on this activity. There are two main aims to The Cornfield Project - firstly to support our local environment through responsible regeneration of the site and secondly to engage as many people as possible in our activities. The NCS team's contribution of planting an array of trees and hedging helps grow the natural beauty of the site while bringing loads more new faces to the area which is always great to see.”
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Joan Baird OBE, said: “I was delighted to hear about the tree-planting which took place at the Cornfield and to know that some of the young people involved stem from Council’s Good Relations Xuberance project. It’s encouraging to know that many of them are still in touch with each other and that those friendships are flourishing. I would like to thank everyone involved including Conservation Volunteers who supervised the hedge-laying and tree-planting.”
National Citizen Service is a once in a lifetime opportunity for 15-17 year olds. It develops resilience, confidence and leadership and aims to build trust between people of different backgrounds and create stronger communities where giving back is a way of life. There are around 300,000 graduates of the programme in the UK including 2000 from Northern Ireland.