Symposium on Youth and Sport Kicks off Croke Park Classic

Aug 25 2014 Posted: 13:06 IST

A symposium on youth development and sport, organised by UNESCO experts, takes place on Thursday, 28 August.

The symposium is organised by three UNESCO Chairs in the field of youth studies from NUI Galway, University of Ulster, and Penn State University. It kicks off the Croke Park Classic Weekend, which will feature an American football clash between Penn State and University of Central Florida.

According to the symposium organisers, with half of the world’s population aged 25 or younger, there is a pressing need for innovative strategies to engage youth. And with 85% of all youth living in less developed countries, active engagement of youth is essential to international security, stability, and regional capacity building.

Dr Mark Brennan of Penn State University explains how sport can help: “We believe that a dedication to youth citizenship sponsored through sport and recreation will bring communities together and create a prosperous and peaceful environment for all.”

‘The UNESCO Croke Park Symposium on Youth Civic Engagement and Leadership through Sport and Recreation’ will look at the effects sport can have on youth in terms of leadership, peace building, empowering women and social inclusion.

Key speakers will include, among others:

  • Professor Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development, Penn State University.
  • Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, NUI Galway.
  • Professor Alan Smith, UNESCO Chair in Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy, University of Ulster.
  • Don Mullan, author, founder of the Christmas Truce and Flanders Peace Field Project.
  • Alan Kerins, Irish GAA star and founder of Alan Kerins Projects;
  • Hugo MacNeill, Irish rugby star, Managing Director Goldman Sachs;
  • Georgette Mulheir, CEO of Lumos (the organisation founded by J.K. Rowling which works to support children in institutions.)

NUI Galway’s Professor Pat Dolan, the first person to be awarded the prestigious UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement in the Republic of Ireland, commented: “We are focussed on knowledge creation around ‘what works’ in the real world of practice and on utilising community based approaches to working with and for young people.”

Explaining the organisers’ approach, University of Ulster’s Professor Alan Smith, said: “The symposium will bring together a range of voices, from youth involved in citizenship and peacebuilding projects, to policy makers and organisations tasked with building resilient and thriving communities.”

The Symposium will result in significant policy initiatives and a major formal declaration on utilising sports and recreation as mechanisms for youth development worldwide.

This declaration will be announced at halftime during the Croke Park Classic football match and presented to the UN, UNESCO, and UNICEF as a platform for them to build global programming and policy.

The UNESCO Croke Park Symposium on Youth Civic Engagement and Leadership through Sport and Recreation will be held on Thursday, August 28, 2014 from 9am to 4.30 pm at Croke Park, Dublin. Click here for full symposium agenda.


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