A DOZEN Dromore High School students were among those to take part in a recent trade fair at Letterkenny Shopping Centre in County Donegal.
The event was organised by Young Enterprise Northern Ireland as part of the KEY (Knowledge through Enterprise for Youth) Programme, now in its 11th year and delivered jointly by Young Enterprise Northern Ireland and Junior Achievement Ireland.
Funded by the International Fund for Ireland, it brings together 14-16 year-olds from marginalised communities on both sides of the border to learn about enterprise, peace and reconciliation and acquire skills to help them positively influence a shared future for Northern Ireland and the southern border counties.
As part of the Programme the young Dromore entrepreneurs were partnered with peers from St Paul’s High School, Bessbrook, and St. Macartan’s College, Monaghan, to set up six mini-companies to trade their products to the general public.
On hand to assess public reaction to the products and test entrepreneurs on their business knowledge were local businesspeople Soodafeh Foley, manager of The Natural Way, and Donal Gallagher, assistant manager of Letterkenny Shopping Centre. Mayor of Donegal, Councillor Noel McBride, also attended the event to witness firsthand the skills acquired by participants over the course of the programme.
The trading day marked the culmination of a year’s training and development which the young people received during the KEY Programme, at four residential retreats held at outdoor activity centres throughout Northern Ireland.
Over the year, the group of 36 students participated in enterprise activities designed to improve motivation, confidence levels and presentation skills, as well as exploration of employment opportunities and the concept of enterprise.
An integral part of the Programme is the requirement for participants to mix with their peers from other traditions and backgrounds to gain a greater understanding and tolerance of the religious backgrounds of others.
The KEY Programme has been endorsed by CCEA in Northern Ireland and NCCA in the Republic of Ireland. Students are drawn from 72 schools in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties.