Local teens get US treatment

THE spirit of Ulster Project Delaware is to live on in the form of Delabridge 2012 - a cross community project for Banbridge teenagers.

Last summer, 18 young people aged 14-16, nine of them Catholic and nine Protestant, spent a month living with host families in the town of Wilmington, Delaware, USA.

Ulster Project Delaware (UPD), has been in existence for more than 35 years, and rotates between the towns of Banbridge, Portadown and Coleraine on a two-yearly basis. The teenagers who participate are nominated by their churches, and the host families are always based in Wilmington.

The aim of UPD is to promote reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants by fostering tolerance, understanding and friendship among teenage future leaders.

Delabridge 2012 will further these aims by bringing the Banbridge teenagers from the different Christian faiths together again in a strife-free atmosphere that emphasises acceptance of everyone, regardless of creed.

The Delabridge 2012 project members have embarked on a fundraising drive to cover the costs of putting on a programme of activities for July next year. A topical fireside quiz featuring clues to Christmas songs is on sale at £1, and Delabridge 2012 will be running a bun stall at the Christmas Craft Fair at Banbridge Academy on Saturday December 10 from 10am until 12.30pm.

Other fundraising events under consideration include a folk concert, a quiz night, and a bag pack.

The teenagers who travelled to America earlier this year will all be tasked with helping raise funds, building on service aspects which were part of their Delaware experience.

Ciara McLean, chairperson of Delabridge 2012, said: “The young people involved in UPD this year got so much from the project, experiencing a different country and culture, developing their confidence, and above all, establishing lasting friendships with teenagers from other denominations and backgrounds.

“We hope Delabridge 2012 will give them the opportunity to continue on this path of tolerance and leadership by building on and strengthening the friendships that formed when the 18 teenagers first became involved in UPD.”