Inclusion and diversity within our communities was the theme of the recent CAN Inclusion Festival which took place across Carrickfergus, Antrim and Newtownabbey. The two week festival which began on International Day of Peace and ended on National Diversity Day was a massive success, bringing the values of the CAN PEACE III Partnership’s ‘Respect’ programme to local areas through a range of events, workshops, talks and training.
The festival kicked off with lively ‘Flash Mobs’ appearing in Carrickfergus Museum and Civic Centre, Junction One, Antrim and Abbeycentre, Newtownabbey, startling the unsuspecting shoppers who were surprised by the impromptu performance from the dance troupe! This marked the beginning of the fantastic festival which offered an extremely varied programme for local communities to get involved in.
The poignant exhibition ‘The F Word: Images of Forgiveness’ was displayed in Antrim, Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey during the festival and presented the public with a thought provoking collection of images and personal narratives exploring forgiveness in the face of atrocity. Through true stories from around the world, the display, along with a guest speaker evening, examined how forgiveness is a healing process and ultimately a journey of hope.
Inclusion and diversity were also promoted through a range of fun events suitable for all the family. Events including a craft fair with an international flavour in Ballyclare, a diversity day in Whitehead and Polish myth busting workshops in Antrim and Newtownabbey all helped to promote and celebrate the many different cultures which exist in our communities. A Play Action Day in Clotworthy House, Antrim, provided free training for those who work with children on activities which encourage respect and diversity. The attendees were trained how to teach these themes to children through an outdoor play programme. In the afternoon, the Play Action Day was open to the public and lots of families came along to participate in some outdoor fun whilst getting involved in workshops about culture and friendship.
The fantastic two-week programme concluded with the free, fun, ‘CAN you Cha Cha Cha’ event which celebrated cultural diversity from across the globe! Over 50 members of the public had a fantastic night learning dances from all over the world including the Cha Cha Cha, the American Smooth and Spanish Jive.
Speaking about the festival, Councillor Noreen McClelland, Chair of the CAN PEACE III Partnership says ‘This year’s CAN Inclusion Festival has been a massive success with over 35 events being included and this is testament to the fantastic work from statutory and community groups all over the CAN area! I hope that everyone who attended the festival has left feeling that a diverse culture can only benefit our communities and we can work towards a peaceful future, unhindered by sectarianism or racism.”
The Respect Programme has a large and varied programme of events and activities still to come, with 50 pots of funding of up to £1000 available for community groups to deliver an appropriate project in their area. If anyone is interested in accessing this funding, or wishes to find out more about the Respect Programme, please contact Lynda Kennedy, Respect Project Officer on 02894 463113 ext. 1322 or by emailing.