Earlier this month, 19 young people graduated on the Loughs Agency’s Carlingford Ambassador Programme, an expansion of its successful Foyle Ambassadors scheme.
Supported through funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ireland, in partnership with Co-operation Ireland, the Carlingford Ambassadors programme is designed to discover the social, economic and environmental importance of the Carlingford Lough catchment, from source to sea.
At the same time, it provides young people with opportunities to engage and build relationships across the region and political divide.
Shanna Rice, co-ordinator of the programme at the Loughs Agency, said: “During the summer these 19 young people truly became ambassadors of Carlingford, recognising its importance as a natural resource.
“Ambassadors not only built lasting connections with the catchment, they also developed lasting friendships with each other. The experiences they have gained will provide them with skills for life through fun, friendship and adventure.”
Loughs Agency designated officer Sharon McMahon added: “The Ambassadors programme encourages young people to get involved in the conservation and protection of the natural environment, and as the decision makers of the future and future custodians of the natural environment, it is extremely important that they understand the issues effecting this valuable resource today.
“The programme encourages young people to look after their communities, their relationships with their fellow citizens and the natural environment. It provides opportunities for them to enjoy and understand the recreational facility that the great outdoors provides, so that future generations may also enjoy it.
“And just maybe, due to the intervention of young people such as the Foyle Ambassadors, we can make a lasting difference on this wonderful resource to help make it better, more resilient and sustainable.”
Since 2014, nearly 200 young people between the ages of 13 and 17 have participated in this programme in the Foyle and Carlingford areas. And the Loughs Agency says it is keen to continue delivering the programme .
Peter Sheridan, chief executive of Co-operation Ireland, said its involvement in the programme “is a great source of pride for the organisation and we were delighted to be able to support its expansion in 2019 into Carlingford Lough”.
He continued: “I am confident the success we have seen with the Foyle Ambassadors programme over the last five years will be repeated in Carlingford Lough and look forward to continuing our partnership with the Loughs Agency.”
The Ambassador programme has the potential to reach many more young people throughout the Foyle and Carlingford areas, the Loughs Agency says. If you are interested in the programme, register your interest via email to [email protected]