‘Ireland – I Have a Dream’ and Change Makers – two new projects will empower young people
Two inspirational new projects are now coming to life and will empower young people, thanks to winning investments from the Coca Cola Thank You Fund.
The legacy of Martin Luther King and his seminal ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is the inspiration for the ‘Ireland – I Have a Dream’ project, which invites young people living in persistent poverty in Ireland to find their strengths. Through a creative writing process, they will share their experiences and find their individual and collective voices with the aim of being empowered and then going on to inspire others to keep fighting to stop poverty.
The project is the brainchild of All Together in Dignity – ATD – Fourth World Ireland, which has secured €5k through the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund. “We are over the moon. It’s an amazing start for us to get this funding, as we have a newly formed youth group”, explains Senan Coughlan, a full-time volunteer with ATD Ireland.
Young people with “incredible resilience”
“What we will do is create a space for young people to become leaders. Because these people have had to live in persistent poverty, they have had to overcome massive challenges and face social exclusion – this has given them incredible resilience and unrivalled character. They are often told, or often feel, that they do not have leadership qualities but in fact it’s quite the opposite.”
“We are creating an avenue to help these young people realise their potential and demonstrate their leadership qualities. We will provide them with support and an environment for them to lead and find their own voices – rather than speaking on their behalf. That’s the goal – we’ll create young leaders,” explains Senan Coughlan.
“There are negative cycles of poverty – it’s generational. We will counteract this and create some positive cycles.” Based in Mountjoy Square in Dublin’s north inner city, the organisation is focusing on the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King. “We’ll be using his legacy – in addition to his work on civil rights as he was also an anti-poverty activist. We’ll be holding creative writing workshops and these young people will write about their hopes and dreams for Ireland – we’ll gather all the submissions and publish them in some form and have a launch event around the anniversary. We are thrilled that this is now possible through the Coca-Cola Fund”.
Spreading Positivity through Acts of Kindness
Change Makers – the brainchild of Start 360, which delivers a range of person-centred services to young people and adults in Northern Ireland – is another new project that has received €5,000 in this years Coca-Cola Thank You Fund.
The innovative new project involves young people going out in to their community and spreading positivity through acts of kindness. The young people will engage with communities and explore different concepts that will improve the lives of residents within.
“Funding Means We Can Put Good Ideas in to Practice”
Zoe Anderson, Communications Manager of Start 360 explains: “We are delighted to get this funding from the Coca-Cola Fund. This means that we can now put a lot of good ideas in to practice. We see this as the starting point and we hope to roll it out further. Doing something good for your community really enables a person to give back and then exponentially more and more people get involved.”
‘We work with young people aged between 16 to 24 in the greater Belfast area and further afield, who are very often looked down upon in their communities but they want to change that and give back and do something positive. Our work – and this funding will now offer them the opportunity to make a change. We will be implementing a three phase programme – they will first develop their skills and see what their communities need. Then the young people will go out and do positive things in their communities and the third phase will be to cascade that through their communities beyond the lifetime of the funding.”
“The acts of kindness can range from clean ups, street art to brighten up areas, befriending opportunities and all sorts of other initiatives but all the activity will depend on the needs that the young people identify in their own communities.”
A total of €100,000 has been granted to 14 community groups across Ireland and Northern Ireland for innovative projects that will support and inspire young people. Five organisations received grants of €10,000: The Little Museum of Dublin, An Cosán, Foróige, CDYS Ltd., Leave No Trace Ireland and Girls’ Brigade. An additional eight organisations will each receive €5,000 for programmes.
Coca-Cola says Thank You
Petre Sandru, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Ireland thanked all the organisations who applied for Thank You Fund grants this year and the judges who helped select the winners. “We are delighted to invest in young people in our communities but it is important to us that the funding provided through the Thank You Fund is a catalyst for new thinking and helps support the delivery of projects and schemes that otherwise might not happen. It is clear from the strategic approach and new thinking that we have seen in the proposals that a lot of time and effort was invested in this process by those who participated. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to enter and specifically to congratulate those who were successful. It is important that the next generation of our society are given every possible opportunity to reach their full potential and we hope that the funding provided through the Thank You Fund will make a difference in the lives of those who have the opportunity to participate in the programmes.
Since the Thank You Fund was launched in 2011 it has invested a total of €855k in community groups and non-profit organisations throughout the island of Ireland.
More information about the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund and all grant recipients is available at www.coca-cola.ie/thankyou.