10256509_682055531875373_8019640776788087979_oKayak Expedition from Scotland to Belfast

A group of young men in May of this year took on a huge challenge of kayaking from Scotland to Belfast a whopping 44km through the Irish Sea with no rescue boats only themselves, their kayaks,youth workers and instructors.

Since October 2013, a group of young men from Inchicore set out to complete their kayaking instructor training to become fully qualified instructors, this was made possible thanks to Community Foundation funding, this application was made by St. Michael’s youth project manager Janice McGarry (Ballyfermot Dominican Associate) to address the high levels of unemployment that are facing young people in the area. The programme was led in partnership with Canoeing Ireland staff Benny Cullen and Daniel Rawat.

Since October we have kayaked on many rivers eg Avonmore, Aughrim, Liffey to name but a few, as the momentum built and the skills developed it was put to the group if they would take on the mammoth challenge to raise much needed funds for their youth project and to give back to their community. As a group we all sat down together to plan and organise our trip including the extra strong man training that a member of the group organised, we luckily had sea kayaking instructor John Pierce to guide the way and the utmost support and belief of the whole team.

The excitement and nerves began to set in as the big day drew closer despite a few minor hiccups!! We all met at 4 o’clock in the morning at the youth project and set off on our journey, first stop was the ferry port in Belfast where we travelled to Larne in Scotland, we then got our gear off and set off into the sea for 8 hours until we finally saw land in Port Patrick. The journey was an amazing experience for everyone who took part and what people got from it would be hard to put into words, the group excelled beyond all belief and passed their kayaking instructor training assessments and have gone on to do sessional work with Canoeing Ireland and also pass their skills onto the younger people in their community and become positive role models and ambassadors for positive change.

Niamh Smith (Dominican Associate Ballyfermot)
Community Youth Worker.
St. Michael’s youth project
Inchicore Dublin 8