Pupils want to change image of Northern Ireland youths

This film focuses on the religious divide in one NI community and how younger people can help

Having been granted the opportunity to film our own story with the help of a BBC crew, there was only one subject we wanted to cover: the incorrect media portrayal of Northern Ireland's young people as rioters and thugs.

We wanted to use our story to show that teenagers in Northern Ireland are more involved in cross-community projects that help bridge the divides than they are in violent protests, which only help to exacerbate them.

Although apprehensive about the task at hand (having only had a few days to prepare questions for our interviewees), I was excited about learning the 'tricks of the trade' and to experience how the video packages we see on the news every night are actually put together.

It is safe to say that professional journalists who do this day-in, day-out, are a dedicated bunch as it was a long, tiring process, but definitely worth it in the end.

Jonny, the focus of our story, is heavily involved in a cross-community scheme called the Ulster Project which unites teenagers from both sides of the community, in preparation for a month-long trip to the US.

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The way the youth of Northern Ireland are often portrayed is incorrect - we're not all thugs, throwing petrol bombs over peace walls and attacking the police”

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Together they do fund-raising activities, team-building exercises, and bond over their similarities as opposed to their religious differences.

We felt that covering this aspect of Jonny's life, and talking to the leaders of the project about their experiences, would highlight the level of interest from young people in Northern Ireland towards schemes like this.

Filming the Ulster Project was only one part of our story, though. We also wanted to get a greater scope on how things have changed since we were born.

We did this by talking to two of Jonny's managers at the grocery store where he works, who have been trading throughout the worst days of the troubles.

They told us how much Northern Ireland, and Portadown in particular, have progressed with the help of cross-community projects, and how vital they are to keep moving forward in the future.

Their insight into the history of Portadown, and the struggles its people have lived through, was invaluable and definitely focused our minds on where the story needed to go from there.

school reporters Filming the report was nerve-wracking but very worthwhile

Later in the day, we recommenced filming at the Ulster Project. The atmosphere there was brilliant and the cameramen filmed some background shots to go under the voice-over, and the leaders of the project were extremely helpful in providing an insight into the importance of outreach schemes.

The only thing left to do was to record the voice-over, which involved me reading a script, and filming the piece to camera which I was extremely nervous about. Needless to say, it took me a few takes to get it right, but I felt much better having gone through with it.

This story was important for us to tell, as we believe that the way the youth in Northern Ireland are often portrayed in the media is incorrect. We're not all thugs, throwing petrol bombs over peace walls and attacking the police.

From our own experiences we have seen the majority of people our age are committed to making peace with each other through cross-community projects. And because of this type of attitude and greater communication, Northern Ireland is changing for the better.

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