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Lord Mayor awards 'Community Giants' at Odyssey Ice Academy 2019/20

20 Feb 2020

A class of 17 young people are celebrating today - becoming ‘Community Giants’ following graduation from the 2019/20 Odyssey Ice Academy. The 17 young people who have been in care or experienced mental health difficulties laced up their skates for the first time as part of the third Odyssey Ice Academy with the Stena Line Belfast Giants. 

The Lord Mayor of Belfast hosted the graduation at Belfast City Hall and met with all of the participants of the programme. Daniel Baker, Lord Mayor, congratulated the young people on the new skills and important life experiences they have gained in the last six months. 

The Ice Academy has been funded by the Department for Communities (DfC) and the Odyssey Trust as part of the Executive’s Together: Building a United Community Strategy. Project partner, Include Youth, provided ongoing mentoring support to help build self-esteem, confidence and resilience as the young people transition into adulthood.

The 2019/20 Odyssey Ice Academy, which seeks to improve life chances, included ice sessions with the Belfast Giants as well as off-ice training which featured sessions in communications, volunteering, fitness, teamwork and skills training. 

Speaking at the graduation the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Daniel Baker, said: “I commend all 17 of these inspirational young people who have shown great bravery and strength of character to take on a new challenge and persevere through adversity. The Odyssey Ice Academy is a brilliant initiative for young people who are overcoming difficulties and provides an excellent support network for participants to build essential personal development skills which they can then take with them throughout life. “It has been a privilege to welcome the ‘Community Giants’ to City Hall today and to present them with graduation certificates for their fantastic achievements both on and off the ice.” 

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA said: “I had the privilege of meeting and speaking to these young people at their celebration match last week in The SSE Arena. It was clear to me that they have very much enjoyed the experience and have embraced the opportunity the Ice Academy has provided them to further develop their volunteering, communication and team work skills with the support and inspiration of our very own Belfast Giants. I am proud that my Department continues to support this worthwhile initiative and I congratulate all the participants on their graduation.” 

Speaking as the 3rd Odyssey Ice Academy draws to a close Paddy Mooney, Director of Include Youth, said: “As we come to the close of the third Odyssey Ice Academy, with a presentation to the young participants in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour in Belfast City Hall, I can say the programme only gets better and better with each year. “The young people involved have been fantastic and from all accounts have enjoyed every minute of it. 

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those young people and all involved in running the Odyssey Ice Academy including the Odyssey Trust, Stena Line, The Belfast Giants, Department for Communities and the staff at Include Youth.” 

Community Giant Archie Wilson said: “The Odyssey Ice Academy was amazing and we learnt so many new skills including how to play ice hockey with the Belfast Giants at The SSE Arena, Belfast, which is much harder than it looks! The off-ice sessions were fun and I learned a lot through the whole programme. I am so proud to be a Community Giant and part of the class of 2019/20.”

A class of 17 young people are celebrating today - becoming ‘Community Giants’ following graduation from the 2019/20 Odyssey Ice Academy.