Connected Health extends warm congratulations to Active Communities Network on their recent prestigious award – 2018 Laureus ‘Sport for Good Award’, presented in Monaco this week. We are proud to work with the charity as a partner into employment for young people in Belfast. The work they carry out is inspirational and we encourage you to read the full press release here;

Pictured Above: ACN Director of Programmes Jim Donnelly and ACN volunteer Dean McComb take a walk by the Peace Wall in West Belfast.

Belfast youth workers honoured at Laureus ‘oscars for sport’

Belfast youth workers are to receive the 2018 Laureus ‘Sport for Good Award’ in Monaco on behalf of the charity, Active Communities Network.

ACN Belfast will be showcased to the international sporting elite at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco  tonight (Tuesday, February 27). ACN, which is dedicated to youth development through sport, will receive the award from ceremony host, Hollywood A-lister, Benedict Cumberbatch.

ACN Belfast programme participant Dean McComb, whose fiancée took her own life two years ago to the day, will join ACN Director of Programmes Jim Donnelly, also from Belfast, on stage to accept the Laureus statuette.

A short film detailing Dean’s journey and the work of ACN Belfast will be screened at the ceremony for the audience of sport stars from gathered from around the globe.

Growing up in one of the most disadvantaged communities in Northern Ireland, Dean McComb and his group of friends were among the most disengaged in Belfast as young men. They faced significant challenges growing up in Ballymurphy.

However, Dean met his mentor Jim Donnelly through an ACN programme and with the programme’s support, he has overcome huge challenges in his life. With the help of ACN, Dean became empowered to make different choices to others who fell victim to the disadvantages prevalent in his community.

Jim Donnelly said: “Despite being faced with a number of obstacles in his personal life, Dean’s resilience, courage and the sport of boxing kept him focused. Today, he is a volunteer with the organisation in Belfast, passing his own experiences and learnings on to the next generation. Dean’s inspirational story is proof that sport can change the world.”

Dean McComb said: “On the 27th February 2016 I found my Partner Caoimhe dead, this year on 27th I’m in Monaco collecting this award. In 2016 I never believed I’d be alive, never mind being here. Today I’m thinking of Caoimhe but also my two children and I want to help make their futures better, with sport and ACN I know I can do this.

Benedict Cumberbatch announced the Sport for Good Award winners at a press conference in Monaco on Monday afternoon alongside Laureus Academy Chairman and legendary All-Blacks captain, Sean Fitzpatrick, and ACN Founder and CEO Gary Stannett.

Jim Donnelly, who was last month appointed Director of Programmes at the international charity which operates in Ireland, the UK and South Africa, said:

“It is a great honour that the work of Active Communities Network across Ireland, the UK and South Africa has been recognised with the Laureus Sport for Good Award.

“As an organisation we believe that sport is a fantastic facilitator and pathway to deliver resilience, stability and cohesion in disadvantaged communities. Our staff work to try and create long term social change through frontline projects, training and research initiatives.

“Laureus and its Academy have been, and continue to be, with us on every step of that journey, and this award is a great endorsement of our work from people who truly understand sport for good.”

Benedict Cumberbatch said: “I have seen first-hand the work Active Communities Network undertakes, and for me it is the perfect example of ‘Sport for Good’. I met inspirational leaders who have come through the programme and are now role models, coaches and facilitators, giving back to the next generation.”

Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “I know I speak on behalf of the entire Laureus World Sports Academy when I say that we are hugely inspired by their work. The organisation is an incredible success story.”

The Laureus Sport for Good Award is awarded to an organisation or individual who, in the opinion of the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, has used the power of sport to overcome violence, discrimination or disadvantage.