THE HEROS Programme Glides Back to Dundonald International Ice Bowl 24 August 2023 Dundonald International Ice Bowl has hosted the 16th year of the highly successful HEROS Programme. Over 50 young people took part in the weeklong programme. Participants enjoyed a daily ice hockey camp at Dundonald International Ice Bowl which included lots of fun and practice, leading up to a big game on the final day, Friday 18 August. The cross community programme uses ice hockey as a mechanism to bring young people together from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. Children and young people involved in the programme came from areas including Lisburn, Belfast, Holywood; Swords and Finglas in Dublin; Kinloss and Edinburgh in Scotland. The HEROS Programme aims to use sport to develop the young people, not just physically, but mentally and socially. Coming together for practice on the ice encourages participants to develop their team building and leadership skills, as well as promoting a greater understanding and respect for each other. This highly successful model was first established in Canada 20 years ago and has helped develop life skills and empower over 17,000 young people since its inception in 2000. This success has been mirrored in Northern Ireland through the HEROS Programme. Councillor Thomas Beckett, Community & Wellbeing Committee Chairman was delighted to host the ice hockey camp at Dundonald International Ice Bowl: “The council was pleased to once again support the HEROS programme, now in its sixteenth year, and to welcome the young people, coaches and volunteers to our ice rink in Dundonald. It was an honour to drop the puck and start the big game on Friday night. The dedication and commitment of the young people was clear to see as they took to the ice to perform their new skills in front of their friends and family. Having begun the week as individuals, it is inspiring to see the strong team performance by the end of the week. Sport, and in this instance, ice hockey, plays a pivotal role in bringing young people together along with the opportunity to develop transferable skills, such as boosting confidence, encouraging self-motivation and developing team working abilities. Off the ice, these new skills and experiences will prove paramount for the young people in their lives ahead. I would like to thank the organisers and Canadian HEROS volunteers for delivering such an inspiring programme which I have no doubt will have a lasting impact on the participants involved.” On behalf of the youth partners, Natalie Trainor added, “The HEROS programme works towards giving young people a unique opportunity to learn and develop life skills in ice hockey while establishing mutual respect and understanding between young people from different community backgrounds. “The programme has been successfully running for 16 years and we are delighted to celebrate the talent, friendships and skills being developed as a result. We hope that every young person gains from the experience and takes away positive messages from this unique project.” The HEROS programme was developed by the youth partners; Crosscare, Army Welfare Services, Ballynafeigh Community Development Association, along with the international partners H.E.R.O.S Canada.