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30 Sept 2022

Louth Migrant Voices Project receives AONTAS STAR award

Development Perspectives’ Amplifying Voices project wins national award

Louth Migrant Voices Project Receives National Award

Paul Crewe, Maria Acuña Gonzalez, both coordinators of Amplifying Voices and Bobby McCormack, CEO of Development Perspectives pictured with their AONTAS Star Award

Development Perspectives’ Amplifying Voices project has won an AONTAS STAR Award. The project supports migrant communities to engage with cultural and educational activities for social integration. They were winners in the Social Inclusion category.

The STAR Awards are an awards initiative organised by the national adult learning organisation, AONTAS as part of its annual Adult Learners’ Festival. They recognise and celebrate the achievements of community and adult learning projects throughout Ireland.

Maria Acuña Gonzalez, Coordinator of Amplifying Voices said: “Initiatives like Amplifying Voices are extremely important as they highlight stories of refugees resettled in Ireland shared directly by them. Eight migrants featured in a different podcast episode sharing their stories when moving to Ireland and their integration journey.” 

The podcasts are not only an educational resource in itself but also served as a platform for migrants to enhance confidence in developing relationships with their new communities, delivering information on issues related to migration, and promoting positive integration by challenging common myths, biases, fears around migration integration in new communities.'' 

Rasha, a participant with the Amplifying Voices course said: ‘’With this course, I got to write my own story. It highlighted skills I didn't even know I had. I am now thinking of even publishing my own book in the future.'' 
 
Flo, another participant said: ''People, oftentimes, want to hear only positive things. But the reality is really more than just what we want to hear. You have to be open to listening to difficult stories and situations that are happening.'' 

Commenting on the project, Dr Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: “We are delighted to award Development Perspectives for the outstanding work they are doing in the area of adult learning. This project demonstrated great innovation and a learner-centred approach to engaging adult learners in challenging times.”

“The STAR Awards is an important opportunity to recognise the work of organisations and the achievements of their learners. The diversity of adult learning projects such as this one demonstrates the incredible impact of education, the role it plays in bringing people together, and the need for us to ensure educational equality across the island of Ireland.”

The Social Inclusion category was sponsored by The Open University in Ireland . Michael Bower, Assistant Director for The Open University in Ireland: “Social inclusion is at the heart of The Open University’s mission so we are honoured to sponsor the Adult Learning Initiatives that Support Social Inclusion awards. The winner of the large organisation award, the Amplifying Voices project led by Development Perspectives in Louth, demonstrated an innovative approach to adult learning with migrant populations based around storytelling. 

Colm O’Regan, author, broadcaster and comedian MC’d a special online celebratory event to acknowledge the outstanding contribution that all of the shortlisted STAR Award projects have made to the adult and community education sector.

The STAR Awards is proudly sponsored by the Open University in Ireland and the Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCNNI), the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), Concern Worldwide, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the European Social Fund (ESF) and Mental Health Ireland. Sponsors will be offering special prizes to all 2022 STAR Award winners.

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