Belfast school children were shooting hoops with the co-owner of a famous basketball team during a cross-community initiative.
The co-owner of the Boston Celtics, Stephen Pagliuca, met school children participating in a project organised by PeacePlayers Northern Ireland. Peaceplayers is supported by the Community Relations Council through its Core Funding Scheme.
The basketball session was part of a 'twinning programme' that enables children from Protestant and Catholic primary schools to learn and play together to form lasting friendships. The Education Authority, Shared Education department, helps to fund the Twinning Programmes in Belfast.
Children from three Belfast primary schools attended the event held in Queen’s PEC: Donegall Road PS; St Bride's PS; and St John the Baptist PS.
The children were treated to a one-of-a-kind experience when Stephen Pagliuca joined them during the basketball session. Boston Celtics are an American professional basketball team that plays in the NBA (National Basketball Association).
PeacePlayers Northern Ireland, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, uses basketball to build lasting friendships among young people from communities with histories of conflict.
Aoife Redmond, PeacePlayers regional programme co-ordinator, spoke about the wonderful opportunity that the children had to meet with such an influential businessman and investor.
“Stephen Pagliuca, alongside Marc Mulholland from Basketball NI, both got involved, doing some shooting practice,” Aoife said. “They chatted to the children, asking them what inspired them.
"They were keen to learn about what the children were doing, what the Twinning Programme is about, and were asking the children and those who run the sessions about it from their perspective."
The children were participating in a six-week programme of activities, as part of the Twinning Programme.
"The Twinning Programme twins Protestant and Catholic schools together through a six-week programme of activities," Aoife said. "It brings the schools together through basketball, which the children love.
"The programme aims to allow the children to form good friendships and relationships with each other. The children come from different communities, so it is important to bring them together – they are our hope for the future."