Cookstown teen returns from Philadelphia Peace Conference

A Cookstown woman was one of four young people who have returned from an experience of a lifetime in the USA.

Kyra Black from the town was one of those whose family has been directly impacted by terrorism.

She joined Kirsty Clarke (Brookeborough), Megan Lindsay (Omagh) and Sarah Olorunda (Belfast) as well as their chaperon Sharon Gault at Project Common Bond 2015 in Philadelphia.

The project was run via the Tuesday’s Children organisation, which was established to support those impacted by the 9/11 Twin Towers terrorist attack.

Stephen Gault, Enniskillen Poppy Day Bomb survivor, also attended the conference and shared his experiences of having been directly impacted by terrorism.

The conference was held over an 8-9 period at an impressive college based in Philadelphia, and the SEFF group then visited prominent sites in New York meeting with representatives from the Mayor’s Office, Fire and Police Chief representatives etc.

The group also visited the Centre built in memory of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Kenny Donaldson, SEFF’s Director of Services remarked: “This was the fourth year that SEFF has sent young people impacted by terrorism to Project Common Bond.

“This year’s group were an all female cast - like previous years participants appear to have had a truly memorable time.

“SEFF values the opportunity to be part of an International family of Nations whose citizens have been impacted by the evils of terrorism.

“Over the years those who have represented SEFF have made special connections and friendships with other young people from across the World (often with those who have limited grasp of the English language) participants take strength from one another through the common bond they share, having been violated by terrorism.

“The PCB experience seeks to instil resilience within participants that despite the horrific wrongs inflicted upon them, their families and ultimately their departed loved one(s) that they cannot allow terrorism to continue to control their lives - that in order to have some semblance of inner Peace they must find a way to become survivors of their experiences.

“SEFF will continue to explore opportunities for the organisation’s message of anti-terrorism and anti-violence to be heard by local, national and international audiences,” concluded Mr Donaldson.