YouthBank Banbridge hosted yesterday the very first Teenage Market™ in Banbridge, supported by Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland.

Local creative young people and talented young performers took over Solitude Park for an afternoon of festival-style fun day out for the whole community. The market was much more than shopping: it created the perfect opportunity for young people to be entrepreneurial, to try out a new business idea and sell creative products.

12 stalls run by young traders under the age of 25 featured a mixture of recycled school bags and purses made of recycled material, clothes, watches, tray bakes, CDs, jewellery, and multi-ethnic crafts. To add even more energy to the event, there were performers across the market (choir, drummers and musicians).

Florence Carrot, 24, and Mairead Hughes, 17 from Banbridge both ran stands at the Teenage Market. Florence said: “This was my first opportunity to showcase my skills as an entrepreneurial crafts enthusiast and I hope the local community enjoyed visiting my stall as well as these of my fellow traders and performers.

Mairead continued: “The Market was an exciting opportunity to show visitors that young people can be imaginative, professional and serve their community’s best interests at the same time. I have had the chance to sell bags made from recycled materials and keep the profits, which will help me to reinvest into the next market, but I will also, of course, make a donation to YouthBank Banbridge who have organised the whole event at no cost to me to support their worthwhile project on positive mental health for young people in the community.”

Joanne McDowell, the Big Lottery Fund’s NI Director said: “We are delighted to be able to support such an original and local youth-led initiative. This project highlights the entrepreneurial spirit of Northern Ireland’s next generation of successful traders and performers, with the added value of youth-led mental health projects benefitting the wider community in the Banbridge area.”

Geraldine McGuigan, Coordinator, YouthBank Banbridge said: “This initiative is supported by YouthBank International, which is the Belfast-based umbrella organisation for 206 YouthBanks globally including 18 in the Republic of Ireland and 6 in NI. The YouthBank movement is now 15 years old and is still gaining momentum across the world, from Honduras to Kyrgyzstan, from South Africa to Norway.

“YouthBank promotes local initiatives by young people to develop projects that benefit their communities: they plan, budget, raise funds themselves and carry out successful local projects that add significant value to their communities.

“We are delighted that with the support of Big Lottery Fund we have been able to organise the first Teenage Market ever to take place in Northern Ireland. We enjoyed a vibrant, energetic day of trading and performances that brought the local community together.

This has been the first of a series of initiatives to take place over 2016. Young people combine entrepreneurship and community spirit. It’s win win for everyone in the Banbridge area.”