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Abstract

This paper presents some of the evaluation results of a learning intervention which took place in Northern Ireland from 1999-2002. The intervention called the KEY project was funded by the International Fund for Ireland and aimed to bring together young people from conflicting cultural and political backgrounds living in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic of Ireland. The objective was to develop the interpersonal and enterprise skills of the participants by involving them in a range of learning activities. In this way the project hoped to redress the disadvantages of children born into marginalised communities and also to help sustain peace and reconciliation by bringing together young people from different political and cultural traditions. The project involved partnership with selected schools which sent their pupils to four residential enterprise camps. These camps combined traditional classroom methods with outdoor adventure activities and the real-life creation of a business. Participants from different political and cultural backgrounds were grouped for outdoor activities and business creation. The empirical research was gathered using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. The findings suggest that the teamwork and focus required in outdoor activities and business creation can successfully overcome the political and cultural barriers that can impede classroom based learning. The effect of the programme on attitudes to those from different backgrounds will be explored as will the difference in attitude between the genders. Finally, the durable effects of the programme will be explored.

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