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Press Release: DeSales University to Host "Leadership Conference 2003" For Teens From Northern Ireland, August 1 - 4
Date: 7/30/2003

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DeSales University to Host "Leadership Conference 2003" For Teens From Northern Ireland, August 1 - 4

Center Valley, Pa. -- (July 28, 2003) - DeSales University will host "Leadership Conference 2003," August 1 - 4, for 142 Catholic and Protestant teens with the Children's Friendship Project for Northern Ireland (CFPNI), as they come together to build bridges between communities and a lasting peace at home.

CFPNI has provided Protestant and Catholic young people from Northern Ireland with a chance to live together in a welcoming family environment in the United States each summer for the last 16 years. This year, for the first time, CFPNI will bring the young people together for a teen leadership conference.

With the theme "Promoting Understanding through Interaction," the conference will focus on issues of diversity, global peace building, and citizenship. The participants, youngsters from towns across Northern Ireland, will join in workshops, role-playing, and roundtables. The Catholic and Protestant teens arrive at the conference following a month living together in pairs with host families all over the United States.

Ambassador Richard H. Haas, the Bush administration's Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, recently lauded CFNPI and "Leadership Conference 2003" for offering this "opportunity for the next generation of leaders of Northern Ireland to focus on diversity, peace building, and citizenship. The lessons and strategies learned this summer," Haas said, "will be powerful tools in building a Northern Ireland that knows only peace and prosperity."

"The work of the Children's Friendship Project for Northern Ireland, Inc. and the mission and philosophy of DeSales University are so closely matched that we couldn't help but be excited about participating in this venture," said Father Bernard O'Connor, OSFS, president of DeSales. "Similar to the Friendship Project, DeSales imparts knowledge about, and develops talents for, personal, familial and societal living. It is our goal to enrich the human community and enhance the dignity of the individual through our educational endeavors. We see the Friendship Project as another catalyst to enrich the human community and are proud to be a part of their work."

The keynote speaker for "Leadership Conference 2003" is Gregory Smith, the 13 year old founder of International Youth Advocates. Smith, a 2002 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, has organized humanitarian aid projects for East Timor orphans and the youth of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He regularly travels to international trouble spots, where he appeals to governments to value young people as their nations' most important resource and an end to violence as their most important pursuit. The youngest public high school graduate in Florida state history, Smith is a native of nearby West Reading, Pennsylvania.

Joining the Northern Ireland teens will be 40 African-American youngsters from Newark, New Jersey's award-winning New Community program, which develops leadership skills for inner-city youth. Francis Teabout, New Community's youth director, will speak about the role diversity plays in this country and conduct workshops that involve the all the teen participants. Also leading the conference will be Bronagh Hinds, Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland. A participant in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, Bronagh - along with a group of Northern Ireland facilitators -- will conduct workshops on citizenship and democracy.

Begun in 1987 as the dream of one Irish-American, Peggy Barrett, the Children's Friendship Project for Northern Ireland is a grassroots, all-volunteer peace program that fosters understanding between Catholic and Protestant young people -- one pair of youngsters at a time. By allowing Northern Ireland teens who had only limited contact with each other at home to interact daily in an American host family, the program aims to break the cycle of fear and mistrust among Protestants and Catholics. CFPNI's goal is to build the next generation of Northern Ireland's leaders.


Press Release: DeSales University to Host "Leadership Conference 2003" For Teens From Northern Ireland, August 1 - 4 | Posted on: 7/30/2003

For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive D
irector of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034

610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu

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