Cross and Passion College (Ballycastle) pupils are leading from the front in the worldwide Run4Unity event on Saturday May 12th.
Young people from all over Ireland are expected to take part in the 5km stage of the event around the grounds of the Stormont Estate.
They will be joined by more than 100,000 young people taking part in the event in Australia, America, the Holy Lands and across the world.
“Run4Unity” is a youth relay race with a difference.
The baton - a virtual one - is passed around the world from one time zone to the next via an internet link to promote peace.
Belfast will receive the baton from Luxembourg and then pass it on to a youth group in Iceland.
Participants can be sponsored and money raised will help children at the ‘Rainbow School’ in Uganda to study or learn a trade. (see: www.school-mates.org/home.asp)
Urged on by 14-year-old student Conleth Burns, the whole Cross and Passion school is getting involved in the project, and one teacher is even writing a song that will be performed on the day.
“It has given the chance for people in my school to see that the gospel is still alive. In recent weeks the corridors of the school have really come to life with posters about the event.
“It provides an opportunity, to us as young people, to strengthen our faith and do something together to put the values of our own school into practice,” he said.
According to school Principal, Barbara Ward, Run4unity “has taken on a life of its own in the school.”
Deeply inspired by the memory of Dr Mary Burns, former Chair of Governors, pupils, staff, and friends of the school are enthusiastically embracing this project as a tribute to her.
Mary, Conleth’s mother, has a very special place in the hearts of all of everyone at Cross and Passion.
She supported and embraced all aspects of life in the school. During her illness Mary discussed how the school might reach out to the young people in the school community in a way which would encourage their spiritual and faith development.
Mary was convinced that providing young people with ‘life giving experiences of sharing, thinking and doing’ would inspire them to see and feel the love of God in their lives.
“This event is a symbolic way of connecting young people throughout the world.
“People can be part of something in Belfast that has started off in Australia and will end in the USA!” said Michele Marken recently retired Principal, well known passionate educational broadcaster and regular contributor to BBC Sunday Sequence.
“The aim is to unite people on this day and to express a common desire to work for peace and unity across the globe,” she added.
Robin Swann MLA (UUP), as one of the sponsors of the event at Parliament Buildings, says he is delighted to have Belfast as a focal point for this celebration.
“Stormont now proudly stands as a beacon to the world for what can be done to tackle and solve difficult historic issues,” he said.
Run4Unity will also take place in many other significant locations around the world, including the Holy Land where Jewish, Muslim and Christian young people will run together in Caesarea.
Organised by “Youth for Unity”, (young people of the Focolare Movement, www.youthforunity.org ), at the heart of the Run4Unity is the “Golden Rule”, common to the main world religions and philosophies: “Do to others what you want them do to you”.
“It’s a simple rule urging us to respect everyone and so change lives in building a better world,” said Reshma Maria Monachan from South Belfast.
This cross community event at Parliament Buildings is sponsored by John McCallister MLA (UUP), Robin Swann MLA (UUP) and Conall McDevitt MLA (SDLP) and is aimed at young people, families, schools and others of all religious backgrounds who wish to give expression to the aspiration for a more united and peaceful world.
“In our own small way we want to give a glimpse to others of being together at an important time and place here in Northern Ireland in 2012,” Reshma added.
Run4Unity starts off at the Great Hall in Parliament Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast on Saturday, 12th of May 2012 at 1pm-4.30pm.
For registration to the event contact: Elisabeth Ohlbock at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 075-31771012
For further information, contact Press spokespersons Michele Marken on 0044-79-77900537; email: email@example.com
‘Run4Unity’ has taken on a life of its own in Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle.