Awakening the Spirit

By cypscadmin, Friday, 26th April 2024 | 0 comments
Filed under: Health, Participation, Youth, Education, Wellbeing.

The Southside Travellers Action Group (STAG) Wagon Project was initiated and led by two Traveller men who wanted to pass on the tradition of wagon building to the younger generation.

The project aimed to promote positive mental health among Traveller men and young Travellers, through culturally appropriate means (wagon building) as well as by signposting to available services. The aim was also to build resilience among young people, strengthening cultural identity, and building trust in services.

From conversations to consultations, The Wagon Project project team co-created a culturally specific mental health initiative, driven by people’s passion and belief in each other. This initiative realised an opportunity to awaken the spirit and enthusiasm of Travellers in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown area.

It enabled the community to take pride in their heritage and culture and to create something that they could be proud of. Participants from the Men’s Shed said that they were

creating a living museum for people to experience the essence of Traveller heritage.

The young people took pride in their involvement in the project and how each small part played contributed to the final wagon, with one young participant saying “see those shelves…I built them”. The Wagon Project has demonstrated that initiatives like these provide supports and pathways for improved mental health among communities.

Multiple stakeholders were captured by the enthusiasm of the project participants and were inspired to support the project; a co-production between a multitude of organisations  including Southside Travellers Action Group (STAG), STAG Men’s Shed, The Hazel House Café and Woodwork School in Tibradden, HSE Mental Health Service Co-ordinator for Travellers, Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention (ROSP), Area Lead for Mental Health Engagement, HSE Health and Wellbeing, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Children and Young People's Services Committee (dlr CYPSC), Healthy Ireland, Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) and the Age-Friendly Programme Manager and Social Inclusion Officer of dlr County Council.

The initiative’s success is down to the commitment and dedication of all who believed in it and all who donated their time, energy, wisdom, and dedication to it's vision. When launched The Wagon Project took it's first journey from Hazel House in Tilbradden down to STAG in Sandyford.  You can read all about it in the The Wagon Project: An Initiative of Southside Travellers Action Group report, and find more information on the launch event on the DLR CYPSC website page.

In addition to the written report STAG and the stakeholders wanted to be able to capture the spirit of The Wagon Project and this is where IADT became involved.

IADT contributed funds to The Wagon Project from the Path 5 Dormant Accounts: Traveller and Roma Students in Higher Education Fund. The involvement of IADT created an opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the project by engaging it's film studies students to document the project visually, with three-fold outcomes:

  1. exposing STAG trainees to film studies as an option in further education,
  2.  cultural awareness for the film studies students and,
  3.  documenting through film The Wagon Project.

View The Wagon Project Documentary.  Amazing work and congratualtions to  all involved!

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