Aspire Celebration and Debate

Children’s Books Ireland was proud to participate in the Aspire Celebration and Debate on 21st May 2021, hosted by Rethink Ireland with support from Piquant. The event showcased the work of the seven Arts to Impact Fund Awardees, demonstrated their cultural and social impact, and a panel of guest speakers discussed the right to actively participate in arts and culture for everyone living in Ireland.

The Arts to Impact Fund was created by Rethink Ireland with the support of the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund. Children’s Books Ireland entered the fund in 2019, with the investment from Rethink Ireland allowing us to extend the reach of Bookseed, our baby book-gifting programme based in Limerick and initially funded by the JP McManus Benevolent Fund. Bookseed gives our youngest citizens access to excellent books by Irish artists in their first year of life, and provides valuable information to families which has been proven to get them reading to their child earlier in life.

Rethink Ireland’s support allowed us to bring Bookseed to over 400 additional families per year, for two years, as well as adding community events to build awareness of and enthusiasm for the project. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, our partners in Public Health Nursing in the HSE and in Limerick Libraries remain committed to getting books into the hands of children in our selected areas in Limerick City County, and we will soon make available the findings of the programme evaluation, carried out by a research team in Mary Immaculate College led by Dr Mary Moloney.

The additional supports provided by Rethink Ireland under their Accelerator programme have been wide-ranging and invaluable, including strategic and business planning, Theory of Change, communications strategy and consultation with young people to inform our strategy’s implementation plan. The impact of these supports on the organisation’s capacity has been profound, and we are deeply grateful to Rethink Ireland, in particular our consultant Noeleen Hartigan and fund manager Amy Power.

The short video produced by Piquant for the Aspire Celebration can be viewed here on Children’s Books Ireland’s YouTube channel. Don’t forget to subscribe!