Northern Ireland’s first ever Ice Academy got its skates on today, with 18 care experienced young people from Belfast taking part as the inaugural intake of students.
Over the coming weeks the young people will learn and develop a wide range of skills and gain important life experiences alongside the Stena Line Belfast Giants.
The Ice Academy has been funded by the Department for Communities (DfC) and the Odyssey Trust as part of the Executive’s Together: Building a United Community Strategy. Project partner, Include Youth, will provide ongoing mentoring support to help build self-esteem, confidence and resilience as the young people transition into adulthood.
Speaking at the launch of the Odyssey Ice Academy Fergus Devitt, Director of Active Communities Division at DfC, said:
“The Odyssey Ice Academy is a unique opportunity for young people to work, learn and have fun together, whilst also being recognised as ‘Community Giants’, who will promote messages of good relations and reconciliation throughout the city. The Academy has all the essential elements to make a real difference to the lives of the participants through their engagement in sport, coupled with the support and inspiration of the iconic Belfast Giants.”
Community Giant Chelsea Duncan said:
“We are all so excited to have been selected for the Odyssey Ice Academy. We have made new friends and we are learning how to play ice hockey with the Belfast Giants at The SSE Arena, Belfast, which is much harder than it looks.”
Wendy Langham, Head of Social Affairs at Odyssey Trust, said:
“We were oversubscribed for the inaugural Ice Academy and we are confident that together we will be able to support better life chances for these young people, while having a lot of fun along the way.”
Paddy Mooney, Director of Include Youth, said:
“The Odyssey Ice Academy is such a fantastic experience for our young people, to build and develop their volunteering, communication and team work skills. Include Youth is delighted to be continuing the partnership with Odyssey Trust. For our young people, working alongside the Belfast Giants is the icing on the cake.”