Project Children
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Project Children

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Div 7 Coordinator

Herman Boyle

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Project Children began in 1975, when six boys and girls flew from Belfast to New York for a summer holiday away from the Irish "troubles". Since then, the program has grown tremendously. This year, two Aer Lingus jets chartered especially for Project Children will transport its young charges across the Atlantic. By summer's end, more than 14,000 youngsters from Belfast, Armagh, Strabane, Enniskillen, and Derry will be counted as alumni.

Project Children works closely with a group of teachers, clergy and social workers in Northern Ireland to identify youngsters who would most benefit from a summer in America. The children range in age from nine-years-old to fourteen-years-old and come from neighborhoods in which the Protestant-Catholic conflict, has taken an especially heavy toll.

In the States, more than five thousand American families have opened their homes to Project Children's Irish visitors, and it is they who constitute the heart of the program. From its original base in upstate New York, the group of host families has expanded to some thirty-five communities in fifteen states.

There are no special requirement for participation -just a willingness to provide room, board and love to a six-week, summertime guest. The children from Northern Ireland simply are folded into the family routines and summer vacation schedules of their American households.

To help ensure that the "fit" is a good one between host and guest, host parents can specify the age, sex and religion of their visitor. Some families choose to take more than one child, and in that circumstance, often request the pairing of a Protestant and Catholic.

While host families provide room and board, Project Children covers the cost of transportation and insurance for its Irish participants. The money is raised through private donations, foundation grants and corporate contributions. Blessed with a large cadre of volunteer workers and responsible for no paid staff, Project Children is able to put virtually all of the money it raises directly into the program.

Project Children seeks to touch individual lives and to give participating youngsters the summer of a lifetime. Because it so clearly accomplishes that goal, its army of supporters on both sides of the Atlantic continues to grow.

The broader goals of the organization are harder to chart, and only time will reveal their success. Everyone associated with Project Children hopes that in providing a taste of life as it can be-without sectarian hatred and violence-they are playing a small part in laying the foundation for peace in Northern Ireland.

Project Children doesn't claim to have the answer to the Irish "troubles". But it does provide a way for concerned Americans to make a difference-one child at a time.

For more information, contact;

Tom Kinirons

L.I. Coordinator

PO Box 115

Oceanside NY 11572


 

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