5,000 young people mark International Day of Peace in Northern Ireland

James Hamber from Rowandale Intergrated Primary School in Moria places a pledge on a peace tree. Cover credit: Michael Cooper/ITV

James Hamber from Rowandale Intergrated Primary School in Moria places a pledge on a peace tree. Cover credit: Michael Cooper/ITV

On Sept. 21, 3,500 young people from over 400 schools and youth clubs across Northern Ireland came together to take part in an event called “Amazing the Space” to commemorate the United Nations’ International Day of Peace.

The Day of Peace is held annually and this year’s theme was “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace” — these including the eradication of poverty alongside gender equality and quality education for all.

The International Day of Peace dates back to 1981 where the motion was first passed by the U.N. General Assembly and was then moved to the consistent date of Sept. 21 in 2001.

“Amazing the Space” was held at the Eikon Exhibition Centre in Lisburn. A large tree sculpture was put up with pupils and students in Northern Ireland reading and placing over 400 pledges onto the sculpture to assert the role that young people can play in building peace around the world.

There were also live performances and messages from international speakers held throughout the day which was also attended by church leaders and politicians. “Amazing the Space” was organized by Dr. David Latimer from the Derry First Presbyterian Church. Latimer collaborated with the Stormont Executive and Co-operation Ireland, an organization which aims to promote dialogue between Northern Ireland and their neighbors in the Republic.

This was followed by additional 1,500 people partaking in similar events across other towns in the region including Ballymena, Londonderry, Enniskillen, Bessbrook and Magherafelt.

There were also smaller ventures carried out by single schools. Foyle College in Londonderry had two young ambassadors create a logo for the peace day while also meeting with policy makers in the Northern Ireland Government offices.

The sculpture itself will serve as a legacy for the event. The messages planted on it serve as a key reminder of the voices young people have in bringing positive change in the world.