The excitement is electric at Tallaght summer camp awards
2017-08-15 8:22:22 -

By Bill McCarthy

Dozens of young migrants and locals packed Tallaght’s Jobstown Community Centre on 28 July for a talent show and awards ceremony hosted as part of a popular summer camp.


Now in its 14th year, the camp is held by Integration for All Children in Ireland (IACI), an organisation established in 2003 to promote equality and address the integration needs of African children in Ireland. 


Over 60 young people between the ages of four and 14 signed up this summer’s three-week camp, according to director Yemi Ojo.


“All of their families look forward to coming to this,” Ojo said of the event. “They get very excited every year.”


This excitement was palpable as attendees laughed and cheered throughout the talent show, which saw several campers showcase their skills in solo and group performances.


Most performances included singing or dancing, and some campers brought soccer balls on stage to demonstrate their dribbling and kicking abilities.


IACI chair Elder Pius Ojo joined Yemi Ojo and special guest, South Dublin County Councillor Charlie O’Connor, to present awards to the top three performers. Certificates were also presented to all campers, and medals were distributed to commemorate high achievements.


This year marked Cllr O’Connor’s first time at the event. In previous years, IACI has brought in several other supporting political figures, according to Elder Pius Ojo.


O’Connor, who was standing in for South Dublin’s mayor, said he was “absolutely delighted” to stand in as an honoured guest.


“It was good to support this particular initiative,” he added. “Integration for all children is something we should be all working towards because it is important that people understand that we are all equal in that sense.”


Among the awards presented were two certificates commemorating IACI’s Youth of the Year, which went to eight-year-olds Eva White and Paige Byrne.


“It felt amazing and exciting,” said White, who wants to be a nail artist, a singer and a dancer when she grows up.


“I just can’t believe we just won,” added Byrne, who also wants to pursue a career as a dancer.


The girls were also selected alongside friend Shannon Croney, 11, as first-place winners of the talent show for a group dance routine.


However, the beauty of the camp is not just for its awards, said Ajoke Kayode, a volunteer with IACI since its inception. The camp is special because it brings together children of all backgrounds, she noted.


“They are all friends with one another here,” said Kayode. “Maybe they are black or maybe they are white, but in this space, they are together and they are happy together. They have very good hearts.”


This level of integration is at the core of IACI’s mission, Kayote explained. Formerly known as Integration for African Children of Ireland, IACI began welcoming native Irish children and those of other minority backgrounds several years ago, to promote social inclusion and awareness across cultures.


“We are promoting integration and interculturalism and making space available for kids to come in the summer,” said Elder Pius Ojo said. “During the summer holiday, children can get bored at home and that can be problematic because they just want to go out, to have fun.


“We started 14 years ago to create a place for them to go, and it has been tremendous. We have done a lot.”

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