Press Release

Hanafin praises multi-purpose cross-border initiative for children

Minister for Children, Mary Hanafin T.D., is in Belfast today (Tuesday, May 29, 2001), at the graduation of young people (aged 14-16) who have participated in the innovative “Knowledge through Enterprise for Youth” (KEY) programme.

Launched in 1999, the programme is operated jointly by Young Enterprise Northern Ireland (YENI) and Junior Achievement Ireland and funded by the International Fund for Ireland.

“Since this initiative was launched in 1999, 600 young people from recognised areas of socio-economic disadvantage in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic have graduated for this residential enterprise-training programme,” explained Minister Hanafin.

“The programme´s objective is to tackle disaffection, education underachievement and non-participation amongst young people from disadvantaged backgrounds,” she added.

“The programme develops enterprise skills as the vehicle for personal development and the focus is on motivation and confidence building, career planning, and entrepreneurship. There has been real evidence to date that the programme has resulted in increased motivation, greater confidence in career expectations and reductions in truancy and improved school attendance levels. Today´s graduation event is a real opportunity to celebrate the completion of the programme by young people aged 14-16 from north and south of the border,” said the Minister.

Also today, Minister Hanafin, accompanied by Mr Dermot Nesbitt (UUP) and Mr Gerry Adams´’s programme. One of the murals will go on display in Parliament Buildings, Belfast, with the other going on display in Leinster House in Dublin.

Minister Hanafin said it was particularly significant to learn that 90% of the programme´s young participants believe that they now have a greater understanding of other religions and backgrounds – she added that the programme was therefore beneficial on a number of levels, most notably a career / education / training level and on a peace and reconciliation level.

“Speaking today with teachers, pupils, parents and others who have been involved in the KEY programme, it is evident that it has made an enormous contribution to the personal development of participants. In addition, it has allowed these young people, North and South, to better exploit the skills and aptitudes which they all have in abundance. KEY has made everyone involved aware of these talents and has provided a practical steer as to how these young participants can go about developing these talents with a career in mind. And, importantly, the promotion of community relations between young people from both traditions in the North and the South is always vital, and an initiative such as KEY is making important progress in this area,” concluded Minister Mary Hanafin T.D.