On August 28, 2014 UNESCO Chairs Mark Brennan (Penn State), Pat Dolan (NUI-Galway) and Alan Smith (University of Ulster), held the “UNESCO Croke Park Symposium on Youth Civic Engagement and Leadership through Sport and Recreation”.

The symposium kicked off the Croke Park Classic Weekend, which featured an American football clash between Penn State and University of Central Florida.

With half of the world's population aged 25 or younger, there is a pressing need for innovative strategies to engage youth. And with 85% of all youth living in less developed countries, active engagement of youth is essential to international security, stability, and regional capacity building.

'The UNESCO Croke Park Symposium on Youth Civic Engagement and Leadership through Sport and Recreation' explored the effects sport and recreation can have on youth in terms of leadership, peace building, empowering women and social inclusion.

Key speakers included, among others:

  • Professor Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development, Penn State University.
  • Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, NUI Galway.
  • Professor Alan Smith, UNESCO Chair in Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy, University of Ulster.
  • Don Mullan, author, founder of the Christmas Truce and Flanders Peace Field Project.
  • Alan Kerins, Irish GAA star and founder of Alan Kerins Projects;
  • Hugo MacNeill, Irish rugby star, Managing Director Goldman Sachs;
  • Georgette Mulheir, CEO of Lumos (the organisation founded by J.K. Rowling which works to support children in institutions.)
The Symposium resulted in significant policy initiatives and a major formal declaration on utilizing sports and recreation as mechanisms for youth development worldwide.

The 'Croke Park Declaration' is presented to the UN, UNESCO, and UNICEF as a platform for them to build global programming and policy.

Symposium Sponsors

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We are grateful and most appreciative of the generous support of the Symposium sponsors and partners who helped make the event happen. Thank you for your continued support!

Our Partners



 University of Galway

Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution