• Find My Style - Bristol

    Forget London Fashion Week, it was New Fosseway School in Hartcliffe that was all about what’s hot or not for Spring/Summer 2015 on Friday 20 March.

    ‘Find My Style’ helps to make fashion accessible to young people with a range of mental and physical disabilities.

    A group of fourteen young students had the chance to work with a London based fashion stylist and image consultant to explore their own sense of style and build confidence as part of the project.

    The image consultant worked with the group to make their own style boards and then showcased the key trends and themes for Spring/Summer 2015.

    The return of the double denim look and big bold floral prints definitely had the group expressing what they felt was hot or not!

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  • Debate Camp Rwanda

    We’re really excited to be involved with Debate Camp Rwanda - a public speaking and critical thinking project for students aged 12 to 18 - teaching the art of public speaking and the science of critical thinking.

    The immediate aim of the camp is to assist students with their continued academic development – public speaking gives them chance to practice their English and to practice how to express themselves fluently and confidently, while the need for critical thinking in order to debate a topic aids them in the sciences and entrepreneurship. At the end of the camp all the attendees get a certificate which can help them qualify for scholarships and bursaries for studying abroad.

    The long term aims are convincing the education establishment in Rwanda of the value of debating and promoting good governance for when this generation of Rwandans assume the mantle of leading their country 15-20 years from now.

    This is done by getting them to debate the public policy issues Rwanda is likely to face in the future. More broadly, is to address the scepticism of free speech that has gripped Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide and equip young people with the critical thinking skills necessary to avoid succumbing to the type of propaganda that led up to it.

    Debate Camp Rwanda 2014 was a massive success. Some 150 students from Rwanda and Kenya attended - 70% of them were female. The average age was 16 and most of the students were beginners and had been debating for under two years. The camp consisted of a seven-day intensive training programme, with sessions on leadership, policy planning, speech writing, critical thought, negotiating, lobbying, campaigning and much more, followed by a two-day debating competition.

    The impact of the camp is huge and far-reaching. Debating has positive effects on active citizenship, Pan-African advocacy, education and careers, leadership and governance, and sustainable training. The sessions brought to life some of the things that young Rwandans care about, such as unemployment, the difficult choices that have to be made when setting public policy, and the fact that nothing can be considered in isolation from other issues affecting the country. They also inspired a lot of creative thinking and some excellent ideas for how to bring about positive change.

    Angela, who has aspirations of becoming a lawyer, said: “Debate has helped me run projects in my school now. Debate will help me run the world in future. When I first joined debate, I wanted to improve my public speaking skills and I thought there was no better place to do it. However, I have learned that that debate is more of problem solving and logically reasoning the context in which we live.”

    Patrick commented: “Before I started debating I had all kinds of dreams and aspirations ranging from becoming an inventor to a writer to an engineer. I wasn't quite sure but now I know I want to become a leader. I haven't exactly chosen which kind of leader yet but all I want is to impact other people's lives mainly in my community in a respect of human rights and the development of my country socially, economically and culturally.”

    £2,500 from Flamingo Foundation covered all operational costs for the camp including venue hire, accommodation and food for the participating 150 students.

    The money is an investment in the future for some of Rwanda’s young students and could go a long way towards ensuring they are able to shape their country and make positive changes for the people in their communities.

    Find out more about Debate Camp Rwanda at www.debatecamp2014.org.

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  • Our school build in Madagascar - latest update!

    The school is progressing well and the walls are now up to their maximum height!

    Rain showers have slowed things slightly – particularly the pace of concreting, but the team has made great headway on internals such as floorwork and making benches. Material deliveries have also been received for the next stages of the build.

    Highlights

    • The wall at the front of the building has been extended by 50 cm - the extra height is needed to meet the roof above the veranda ( –see photos)

    • Roof apexes are now complete

    • 40 benches have been made and assembled

    Next step is to concrete the apexes, ready for roofing to begin.

    Volunteers have also been interviewing staff and students to gain an insight into the impact that the project is having on the local community, with a great deal of positive feedback received.

    With the apexes completed and the first cross-section prepared and built, a short

    ceremony was held. Bouquets were placed on the highest points of the building

    and tokagasy (local rum) was poured as a libation. Speeches followed giving

    thanks for a quick and trouble-free build so far, before the volunteers and

    construction crew celebrated this milestone alongside parents and teachers.

    We expect the school to be complete by the end of May 2014.

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  • New season, new confidence

    Flamingo Foundation has held its first ‘Find My Style fashion workshop helping young adults with disabilities channel their own sense of style and build body confidence.

    The project was funded by Embargo 59 who raised £350 by selling specially created London Fashion Week Cocktails, donating £1 from each one.

    The session was led by Hannah Jean, fashion stylist and master image consultant. Hannah showcased the key styles and themes for Spring/Summer 2014 and worked with the group to explore how they could channel their own sense of style and build their body confidence. Joining Hannah was expert seamstress Magdalena Handwerker who gave advice on adapting clothes to suit their needs and also fashion photographer Steve Shipman.

    One person to benefit from the session was Jazz Nightingale, aged 19 from Stevenage. Jazz is a wheelchair user and feels like mainstream fashion can sometimes feel inaccessible to young adults with disabilities. She says “I was interested in the session because I like to follow fashion just like other young people. It helps me express myself and my favourites are patterns, sparkly clothes and scarves.”

    “The session with Hannah helped me think about what sort of styles are on trend at the moment and what would suit me. Learning how you could alter your clothes to suit your own needs was great too. It really helped boost my self-confidence.”

    Asked what the fashion industry and retailers could do to make fashion more accessible for young people, as a wheelchair user herself, she said: “They should make shops easier to get around for a wheelchair user, there’s often not enough floor space.”

    Natalie Birch has a learning disability and is aged 19 from Watford. She said “Fashion is important to me and I enjoy choosing my own clothes. I feel confident if I look cool and trendy and I’m happiest in hoodies, t-shirts, trainers and joggers.

    “I really enjoyed the session with Hannah. It helped me think about how I could show my own sense of style and gave me loads of ideas of how I could make what’s in this season suit my style.”

    She ends, “The fashion industry could do more to support disabled people by using more disabled models in magazines.”

    Fashion stylist Hannah Jean became the youngest director to be voted on to the board of the Federation of Image Professionals International which accredits the image industry internationally. Hannah says, “Image and confidence in what we wear can make a huge difference, but young disabled people can feel removed from the fashion scene and find it difficult to find on-trend clothes that suit their style and their bodies.

    “This project is a fantastic way to open up the world of fashion and demonstrate that everyone can find or adapt clothes to show off their individuality and tastes.”

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  • Taking shape!

    The latest update from our school build in Soanierana, Madagascar.

    The volunteers have continued to work on the concrete support columns – boxing them in, moving rebar, mixing concrete and filling the boxing – as well as laying further courses of bricks with local clay mortar.

    Progress has been swift thanks to exceptionally hot and dry weather. In just two days the walls had become high enough to necessitate scaffolding and in three days the walls had reached the top of the door and window frames!

    As the walls grew higher, the volunteers levelled the ground inside one room, prepared rebar for the veranda, as well as the load-bearing lintels above the doors and windows and then constructed the panels required for boxing in the upper part of the support columns, along with the lintels. Bending and weaving together thick rebar, while tiring, made a welcome change from bricklaying!

    Once the concrete had been mixed and poured for the lintels and the upper part of the columns, all that remained to do was to raise the height of the scaffolding, move the next load of bricks into position and prepare more rebar for the construction team’s work on the roof. Just as work was finishing in the early afternoon – as if on cue - the heavens opened!

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  • Catwalk cocktails

    Fashion may seem like an ephemeral concern, but in reality the clothes we wear, and how we wear them, has a big impact on how others view us, and more importantly, on how we view ourselves.

    Looking good is a big part of feeling good; it’s important for all us, and perhaps it’s even more important for those of us with disabilities. That’s why we’re really excited to be launching the Find My Style Project, which funds personal styling sessions for young adults with disabilities.

    Timed with this year’s London Fashion Week (14th-18th February 2014) – the sessions will be led by fashion stylist and master image consultant Hannah Jean. Hannah will be working with participants to help boost their body confidence, find their own sense of style, and explore how items of clothing can be adapted to meet their needs.

    Hannah says, “Image and confidence in what we wear can make a huge difference, but young adults with disabilities can feel removed from the fashion scene and find it difficult to find on-trend clothes that suit their style and their body. This project is a fantastic way to open up the world of fashion and demonstrate that everyone can find or adapt clothes to show off their individuality and tastes.”

    Eclectic Bars, has agreed to fund the project through the sale of cocktails at their Embargo 59 Venue in Chelsea. They’ve created a catwalk collection of fashion themed cocktails – from ‘Fancy Fondants’ to ‘the Square Root’ – all inspired by this season’s looks and available during Fashion Week. £1 from each one sold will go towards the scheme, meaning philanthropic fashionistas can have fun while helping disabled people find their own style. What’s not to like?

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  • The foundations are in!

    Our school build in Madagascar is now fully underway! The construction team and volunteers arrived on site mid January and spent two days meeting with village elders, setting up camp in the site provided by the community and preparing the building site and materials.

    A village elder presided over the formal groundbreaking ceremony and gave a speech explaining the importance of the new building to the students at Soanierana CEG and wishing for a quick and trouble-free build.

    The team set to work following the ceremony and within a week had completed the foundations and bases for all five of the walls, the support pillars for the walls and many of the rebar structures to reinforce concrete needed later in the build. The end of January was dedicated to bricklaying, with 11 courses of bricks laid using cement mortar followed by local clay mortar.

    Next steps will involve the construction team finishing bricklaying and working on the roof, while volunteers build benches for the finished school and prepare the internal floors of concrete and rock.

    Find out more about the project at: www.flamingofoundation.org/madagascar

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THE FLAMINGO BLOG

They say birds of a feather flock together, and here at the Flamingo Foundation, we really are a close-knit brood. Every week one of our huddle blogs about what we’ve been up to, the latest projects that have allowed us to spread our wings, or what has ruffled our feathers.

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