Make Bray Smile
At the beginning of this year, Dave (youth worker) gathered us into a circle one Tuesday evening to tell us about a campaign that 02 is running. It was 02 Think Big. Its aim is to promote positive mental health in Ireland (http://www.o2thinkbig.ie/)
With that aim in mind we brainstormed ideas of what our group could do to promote positive mental health. We came up with various titles for our project. We eventually came up with ‘Make Bray Smile’. We then gave ideas of what we could do. We thought chocolate money, balloons and fancy dress would make people happy and we could ask people what makes them smile (each shop in Bray), so we agreed to that idea. We then thought that it would be a good idea to take photos of everyone smiling and then present a collage of those photos to a representative of Bray Town Council. I then went onto the 02 Think Big website and I submitted our project idea. As part of their support, 02 would supply our group with a free phone, free credit, €300 for equipment and expenses, training and a mentor for guidance.
In early February I got a phone call. It was that all important phone call from Leanne in 02 to tell me that our project had been approved. I was thrilled. I was told that the training day would be on the 23rd February. I was looking forward to that.
The morning of the 23rd February came. I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I was meeting Chris (youth member in Bray Café) in the 02 offices in town at a certain time.
I arrived in the offices and I was greeted by Leanne. There were different groups from around the country at the seminar.We were told all about mental health and how it affects people. We did a few ice-breakers throughout the day. Each group had to say what they were doing for the project. The one that I found most interesting (apart from our on) were a group from Cork. They were doing their project based on including people with intellectual disabilities in everyday fun activities.
In the afternoon, we had various speakers who did presentations on self-esteem and team-building exercises. Afterward we were shown the 02 website for our use after we had been assigned to a mentor. A week later, we were told that Martina Ryan would be our mentor. I had to set up 5 goals and put them on the website. Once I did that, Martina approved them.
Before we bought anything Chris, Dave and I researched where we could get the costumes, chocolate coins and balloons at the lowest prices. Once we did that we ordered them. To let the shops know about our project, Dave and I thought we’d better go out and do just that. We got a fantastic response. We were making people smile just thinking about it.
The day of the event arrived and Dave and Chris dressed up as a banana and a gorilla, Dave as the banana! It was a lovely bright and sunny day. We got a fantastic response from the public. Some people thought we were collecting money instead of giving away chocolate money. A guard even stopped and asked us for our collection permit- once we gave him some of our chocolate money he soon saw the funny side and even gave us a smile! The local Bray paper even came out and followed us around for a while taking lots of pictures.
The day was a fantastic success and everybody we met was very positive about what we were doing. We really feel that we created a sense of fun and positivity on the day and we had a great experience as a group.
Our final night came in June when we had a party night of sorts to celebrate the closing of the project. We invited all of our families, the chairlady of Bray Town Council and people from 02. We presented the councillor with the completed collages and she was delighted, saying they would have pride of place on a wall in the offices of the council.
All in all, the Bray café had a great experience with the project. There was a lot of planning and coming up with ideas which brought out the best in everybody in our group. Lots of ‘doing’ too, which was the fun part! We’d recommend any youth club to take part in this as it can be a really positive and fun experience. Log on to http://www.o2thinkbig.ie/ for further info.