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DkIT's H2O Heroes Receive Significant PEACEPLUS Funding

07 May 2024

Dundalk Institute of Technology are absolutely thrilled to announce that they were recently granted substantial funding of €713,000 which was awarded to them for their phenomenally successful H2O Heroes programme (

This recent financial award was part of total funding awarded of €3,319.291.12 to a project called 'United Youth Initiatives' which will be targeting youth groups and young people (age 9-18) across Northern Ireland, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. 

The project is a consortium approach by key youth providers who are primarily working on a regional basis, including DkIT’s H2O Heroes, Healthy Kidz, Boys & Girls Clubs NI and Peace Players.  This project which will run over 3 years aims to bring together 5,500 young people from diverse backgrounds to participate in a shared learning experience using sports, creativity and environmental initiatives as tools for change. Participants will complete the shared education experience over 12 weeks.

The project offers a unique opportunity for a multi-faceted approach to address its identified theme, namely, ‘Healthy Body - Mind - Environment - Community’ using the mediums of sports, arts, resilience, environmental learning and peacebuilding. The goal of this project is not only to build a more inclusive society but to have additional personal development opportunities by addressing the health & well-being, physical, mental and environmental for the next generation.  

DkIT’s H2O Heroes Initiative is a science-based outreach and public engagement initiative led by Dr Caroline Gilleran Stephens and Dr Suzanne Linnane that has been delivering workshops and running events in the North-East region for the past 7 years.  H2O Heroes demonstrates the importance of both science and our natural water habitats in our everyday lives – with a clear focus on the link between human activity and water quality and quantity.  The goal of the H2O Heroes programme is to inspire, inform and engage. This empowers participants to become real life H2O Heroes and ambassadors for the protection of our most valuable resource, water.

Co-founder of H2O Heroes Dr Gilleran Stephens said:

“We are delighted that this funding will enable us have a positive impact on the well-being and lives of over 5,500 young people in the next 3 years. We have designed this programme to be transformative and connect participants with their local environment to create positive change across local communities. Participation in this shared learning experience which will take young people on a journey of sports, creativity, environmental and community-based activities. If you would like to get involved in ‘United Youth Initiatives’ please get in touch so that together we can make a difference.”

Dr Tim McCormac, Head of Research, DkIT added

“We are delighted to receive this strategic funding through the Peace Plus programme. It will further cement and develop the research and educational outreach activities conducted through one of primary research centres, CFES, from within the School of Health and Science. It builds upon their strong reputation in outreach activities whilst developing new exciting partnerships. We would like to congratulate both Dr Caroline Gilleran and Dr Suzanne Linanne on this significant award”.

The PEACEPLUS Programme has been designed to promote peace and prosperity across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland and builds upon the success of previous EU PEACE and INTERREG Programmes. The Programme will be delivered over five years and will support a wide range of sectors including sustainable transport, health and social care, environmental protection, rural regeneration, smart towns and villages, and youth services. PEACEPLUS is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and is funded in partnership by the European Union, the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Government of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive. 

Minister for Education, Ms Norma Foley T.D. said:

"These successful initiatives have been meticulously modelled to complement and build on the foundations of the previous PEACE IV Programme and include a focus on tackling educational disadvantage, promoting inclusivity and diversity, enhancing engagement opportunities, and increasing participation of children and young people from all backgrounds together. I also welcome the proposed provision of supports to their teachers and youth workers through meaningful cross-border and cross-community collaboration. I eagerly anticipate our continued engagement with our Northern Ireland, British and EU colleagues and stakeholders to utilise the full potential of this new PEACEPLUS Programme."



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