Rotary LaPlace hosts friends from Northern Ireland

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, November 9, 2016

LAPLACE — Rotary Club of LaPlace recently hosted Friends Forever Group, linking St. John the Baptist Parish with Ireland.

The Rotary Club hosted Friends Forever from Northern Ireland Oct. 25 at its membership meeting.

Friends Forever brings together 10 teens (ages 15-17) from areas of conflict for a two-week retreat in the USA, together 24/7 in a “neutral environment,” to build bonds of trust and friendship.

Follow-up activities for a year “back home” involve the teens, their families and neighbors continuing strides toward peace.

Some of the basics include five Catholic and 5 Protestant teens are accompanied by 2 Youth Workers, an American Site Manager provides local logistics, team building, community service projects and lodging for all participants.

This year’s group was made up of youth from the Holy Family Catholic Youth Center and the Mountcollyer Protestant Youth Center in Northern Belfast, Northern Ireland. The two youth centers are about 400 yards apart, but have a “Peace Wall” separating the two communities.

Before the Friends Forever activities, youth from separate sides of the wall rarely interacted with each other.

The Rotary Club of LaPlace has hosted and helped sponsor this activity each of the five years.