During his visit to Belfast, The Odyssey Trust welcomed Joe Kennedy III – Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs, to Dream Space at W5 LIFE (Learning Innovation For Everyone) and The SSE Arena, Belfast for a packed programme of collaborative events in celebration of ‘Technology Without Borders’, in the run-up to a one-off charity ice hockey game between a Belfast Giants All Stars team and Ukrainian National Championship side, Dnipro Kherson.
In November 2022, The Odyssey Trust launched the new, state-of-the-art 20,000 sq. ft learning and educational facility, W5 LIFE to provide a unique space to support the learning and skills pipeline in Northern Ireland to help create future talent entering STEM and technology sectors.
Hundreds of young people from local schools and community groups, including refugee children from Ukraine and other areas of conflict, took part in a ‘Technology without Borders’ event, including an ‘Active Citizen Workshop’ - creating virtual worlds with past Nobel Prize winners in Minecraft Education. The workshop demonstrated the powerful impact that technology can have in creating a universal language for all, and highlighted how Minecraft Education can be used as a teaching tool in educational settings.
Additionally, as part of the programming at W5 LIFE, young people also participated in the ‘FYIL Sphero Challenge’, crafted to help people to learn coding skills using Sphero robots. The challenge brought young people from different schools and communities together, to learn and have fun – whilst using technology to learn, experiment, and challenge themselves in collaborative, problem-solving activities.
Speaking of Joe Kennedy III’s visit, Judith Harvey, Group Head of Learning and Engagement at The Odyssey Trust said: “It was a great pleasure to host Joe Kennedy III at W5 LIFE, to celebrate the synergy of sport and technology, and their mutual role in breaking down barriers and opening doors to opportunities.
“We’re proud to showcase what W5 LIFE is all about” Judith added, “It’s about demonstrating the key role we're playing in Northern Ireland to embrace a digital world – all the while enhancing learning and skills, broadening career prospects, and empowering future generations to unlock their full potential.”
On conclusion of events at W5 LIFE, Joe Kennedy III journeyed across to The SSE Arena, Belfast ahead of the ‘Hockey Can’t Stop Tour’ international charity game taking place that evening, in aid of The Ukrainian Hockey Dream. This special, one-off fixture featured a Belfast Giants All Stars team vs Ukrainian side Dnipro Kherson. The Giants’ All Stars team featured appearances from past and present Giants’ players such as the iconic former Premier League goalkeeper and current Chelmsford Chieftains netminder Petr Cech, and the Belfast Giants’ former captain and current head coach, Adam Keefe. On arrival to The SSE Arena, Belfast, Joe Kennedy met with players from both teams and was awarded a special Belfast Giants All Stars jersey reading “Kennedy, 23” on the back.
The Charity hockey game concluded last night with a 9-7 victory for the All Stars team vs Dnipro Kherson. A cheque for £50,000 – the total sum raised so far – was presented by representatives from The Odyssey Trust to Georgii Zubko, President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine and Director of the Ukrainian Hockey Dream. A further donation from additional fundraising activities is to be announced in due course.