March 2018 we got the approval of Nike that our upcoming project will get financial support of the Nike Community Impact Fund. When and where will be revealed later, but it wil happen this summer.
In the beginning of 2018 The Walt Disney Company started to support us. With their Christmas donation we organized a movie night for 120 child refugees in their own refugee camp. The make over of the common area, the goodiebags, popcorn and pancakes baked with love by a group of refugees made this night very special to all of us. We also organized a workshop tour in shelters and refugee camps during the school holiday this February. At the moment we discuss the possibilities to develop a program to give traumatized children an ultimate escape out of their heads into the world of Disney.
Thanks to our collaboration with non-profit organization Stichting Het Vergeten Kind we have been able to progress by giving more than 500 workshops in the past few years. Most of the teenagers we reach out to are growing up without a home and frequently without parents. Our coaches will do anything to boost their confidence to get them back on track. The dance, basketball and rap workshops in May and summer 2018 are still covered thanks to this partner organization.
In the summer of 2015 we launched our full program in Rotterdam-Zuid, an area known for its low-income households and high crime rate. We selected teenagers with the help of local youth workers, teachers, social workers, care centers, the food bank, cultural organizations and sports coaches. Our goal was reaching out to teenagers without an opportunity to take part in a fun and uplifting activity during their summer vacation. Every day we started with a healthy lunch before moving on to the training sessions. We had room for 100 participants; in the end 89 teenagers took part. Dutch children compared to their Haitian counterparts have many more choices when it comes to participating in activities and there are generally more things going on in their lives. So whereas in Haiti almost everyone showed up at our program every day, in Rotterdam-Zuid we had to allow participants to absent themselves from the program.
The teenagers gave our program an average mark of 8.5 out of 10. They remarked that our program consisted of activities which they enjoyed doing and they appreciated the personal approach of our coaches and the way they were accepted and motivated by everyone. An added bonus was the fact that the project enabled them to make new friends. One of the highlights for the participating teenagers were the rapworkshops they got from Winne and Broederliefde, famous artists in the Dutch rap scene.