GARETH Conlon is the co-ordinator of a major community project part of which has been running at the Darver Centre of Excellence over the past year.
The project was funded by Peace Three Funding under the heading: New and Indigenous Integrated Communities.
It was set up by the Darver Activity Centre Ltd which has Colm Marry as its secretary, Paddy McMahon as chairman, as well Seamus Kirk and Brendan Carthy.
When the activity centre was set up and the funding was put in place, Gareth was brought in to manage it.
Originally from Inniskeen, he has a degree in Community Sports Leadership from Dundalk Institute of Technology.
Gareth has worked in Tanzania and Palestine so he has wide experience of integrating communities and cultures.
“The first thing I did was go around all the African churches,” said Gareth, “to get people involved with their local GAA club, because the GAA is such an integral part of Irish community life.
“We brought them out to the Darver Centre and the idea was to get them involved in training with a GAA club or soccer or rugby club, indeed any sport, as a natural means of integrating into communities.
“We also had Easter and summer camps, and classes in English and home economics.
“And we had an Integration Festival in September which set out to acknowledge our similarities and celebrate our differences.
“It was a carnival of music and sport for the entire community.”
Gareth has always loved sport, but he began to see it more as a pastime when he went to college.
It was there he became involved with Development Perspectives, a development educational body that wants to establish global justice.
They are currently looking for participants.
If you are interested contact: www.developmentperspectives.ie
Development Perspectives brought Gareth to Tanzania and then Palestine, and this made him realise how important integration is and the part that sport can play.
While co-ordinator of the Darver project, he has visited many schools in the county including Ardee Educate Together and Scoil Ui Mhuiri Dunleer.
And at the end of this month a conference will be held in Darver focusing on how we can use sport to deal with social issues and bring people from different cultural backgrounds together.
It is aimed at sports and community leaders and will be held on Saturday 26 march from 10 to 4pm.
The keynote speaker will be former Irish Rugby international Trevor Ringland who does a lot of work in this area.
So contact Gareth at: firstname.lastname@example.org