KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Irish teens wrapped up a two-week stay in the Kansas City area with host families, all in an effort to settle differences back home.
The protestant and catholic teens from Belfast spent the time at various activities getting to know each other, in hopes they'll take that new friendship back to their homeland and share the experience. The idea: end the historic conflict between the two religious groups in Ireland. Some of the kids admit they grew up learning to hate the other "side" and that this experience taught them they are all very much alike as teens.
The Children For Peace program sponsored its first session in 2000. But it took its roots from an earlier three-year program back from 1989-1991.
The local effort is now a federally recognized charity and raises funds privately to support the annual program, which brings 16 teens from Belfast each summer for the two-week stay. They kids this year took part in water sports at nearby Lake Viking, went to a Sporting Kansas City soccer game, and a number of other activities sponsored by the organization. They arrived on June 30 and left to return home July 16.