Our Story in the Making Young People’s Programme

On 13 August 2021, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis announced an exciting Centenary youth programme highlighting the contribution of Northern Ireland’s young people to society.

The wide-ranging Our Story in the Making Young People’s Programme, facilitated by Youth Action NI with support from the Northern Ireland Office, offered six inter-connecting strands of activity across radio, theatre, online, singing-songwriting, youth work and a young people’s gathering. These took place from August to December 2021, and encouraged youth leadership, creativity and active engagement with civic society.

Welcoming the launch of the scheme, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said: “This ambitious and dynamic programme offers young people in Northern Ireland a fantastic opportunity to get involved in fun activities while learning useful skills to make a real difference to society.

“The positive leadership which young people can offer is a key theme of this programme, and I would encourage them to make the most of the opportunities offered to inspire others and to be inspired.”

Youth Action NI Board member Pamela Ballantine said: "The Our Story in the Making project is set to shine a spotlight on the talented young people of Northern Ireland. With once in a lifetime opportunities, this exciting programme has something for everyone.

“Youth Action NI inspires and empowers young leaders to make their voices and stories heard, to make a difference today for a bright tomorrow. Through this innovative suite of opportunities, young people will endeavour to place Northern Ireland on the map, as a world destination for cultural, artistic and innovative excellence."

The six strands of the youth programme focused on the contribution, talents and hopes of young people, and the role that they see themselves playing in creating a hopeful and flourishing future for Northern Ireland.

Through youth-led programming and broadcasting on Youth Action’s Radio YNP station, the scheme showcased local talent in the form of artistic, sports and inspirational contributors such as young artists and entrepreneurs. This included programmes and podcasts on life for young people in Northern Ireland, showcasing youth volunteering and social action, as well as radio interviews between young people and stakeholders in the civic and political arenas.

Meanwhile, budding singer-songwriters were given the chance to show off their skills by creating songs about life, their future dreams and aspirations. One song was chosen as the winning anthem to project hope as a legacy from the Centenary initiative. The winner was Stephen Rafferty with his song ‘Masquerade’, and he had his single played live on Cool FM and Downtown Radio, along with an interview.

Aspiring actors also had the opportunity to take part in a theatrical production exploring the achievements, stories and dreams of young people. This culminated in performances in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.

For young people interested in technology, an interactive online platform was developed through a new Youth Action website and social media hubs. These contained unique content generated as part of the Centenary programme, including videos, podcasts and galleries.

Importantly, the programme shone a spotlight on the role of young people in leadership roles in Northern Ireland youth work, such as volunteering, social action and campaigning, through seminars which support and enhance these roles in society.

Topping it all off was a high profile young leader’s' gathering, bringing together young people from across the British and Irish isles. This focused on supporting the civic engagement of young people, growing youth participation and active citizenship, alongside nurturing prospective civic and political leaders of the future.

For further details on the programme, visit the Youth Action website: www.youthactionniourstory.org