Vodafone Has Reached 19.000 Volunteers In 9 Years With “Dreams Academy”.

VODAFONE TURKEY FOUNDATION TAKES THE LEAD IN SPREADING VOLUNTEERISM IN TURKEY WITH “DREAMS ACADEMY” PROJECT

Carried out in an effort to reintegrate people with disabilities and disadvantages into society with the cooperation of Vodafone Turkey Foundation, Alternative Life Association and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), “Dreams Academy” has led the civil society and social responsibility projects in spreading the notion of volunteerism for the 9 years that had passed since its foundation.

Dreams Academy operates in two centers in Ataşehir, İstanbul and Kaş, Antalya with the active participation of more than 2.000 volunteers in a year, and plays a big role in spreading volunteerism among young people between 18-25. “Dreams Academy” has supported 6.000 students in breaking their barriers with the help of nearly 19.000 volunteers since 2008.

1200 students are empowered to break their barriers with 840 volunteers, who are elected among 3.000 applicants, in 3 years, in Dreams Academy Kaş, that serves as the largest accessible outdoor camp in Europe, and the most extensive living environment for people with disabilities in Turkey since 2014.

Initiated in 2008 in an effort to reintegrate people with disabilities and social disadvantages into society, in cooperation with Alternative Life Association and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), by Vodafone Turkey Foundation, which operates with the aim of pioneering social change, “Dreams Academy” continues to lead civil society and social responsibility projects in spreading the notion of volunteerism in Turkey. “Dreams Academy”, in which more than 2.000 volunteers actively participate, plays an important part in spreading volunteerism among young people between the ages of 18-25. “Dreams Academy” has helped 6.000 students to break their barriers with nearly 19.000 volunteers since 2008.

The volunteer work that has been carried out within the scope of “Dreams Academy” project is presented in a meeting held in Dreams Academy, Kaş, with the attendance of the CEO of Vodafone Turkey, Colman Deegan; the President of Vodafone Turkey Foundation, Hasan Süel; and the Founder of Dreams Academy, Ercan Tutal.

Colman Deegan: “Anyone can volunteer”

Colman Deegan, CEO of Vodafone Turkey, indicated that as Vodafone, they care deeply about social investments, and said:

“We believe that we must create permanent solutions for people with disabilities, who constitute a significant portion of society. We work hard to reintegrate our friends with disabilities into society. We must develop innovative projects with people with disabilities, nor for them. With social initiative projects like ‘Dreams Academy’, we must offer them models that make them feel they can be independent in life. Volunteerism is the essence of this. For this reason, we care about the contributions of volunteers in all projects of Vodafone Turkey Foundation, and we encourage the notion of volunteerism. In this context, ‘Dreams Academy’ is a great example, a pioneer. We would like to take this opportunity to invite everyone to be a volunteer in ‘Dreams Academy’ at some point in their lives.”

“Volunteering is Generation Y’s new preference”

The President of Vodafone Turkey Foundation, Hasan Süel, asserted that as Vodafone Turkey Foundation, they have made significant investments for women, children and people with disabilities and stated:

“We have reached nearly 4 million citizens with our projects, while the total amount of our social investments is close to 29 million TL. We have granted almost 5 million TL to ‘Dreams Academy’ project since the beginning, and have touched the lives of 6.000 young people. ‘Dreams Academy’ is a project that we carry out on a voluntary basis. We believe that volunteerism needs to be encouraged in order to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Volunteerism plays an important part in raising public awareness about the needs of people with disabilities, and about how they can contribute to society. The volunteering level in Turkey is relatively low. According to World Giving Index, 10% of the Turkish public donates money, whereas 4% of the people participate in volunteering activities. According to Third Sector Foundation of Turkey’s data, 2,5% of the citizens volunteer for society organizations, and 4,2% for political organizations. As Vodafone Turkey Foundation, we are happy to lead civil society and social responsibility projects in spreading the notion of volunteerism in Turkey. Our ‘Dreams Academy’ project sets a significant example in volunteer work. Doing volunteer work is a new preference especially for the Generation Y. Dreams Academy Kaş has been a pioneering project in this sense.”

Ercan Tutal: “Volunteers are the guarantee of sustainability”

The Founder of Dreams Academy, Ercan Tutal, drew attention to the fact that human capital is the most important factor in volunteer movements, which constitute the main activities of civil society organizations, and noted:

“Volunteers, who are the pioneers of social change, facilitate the sustainability of social transformation projects. As Dreams Academy, we continue the journey that we began years ago with the motto ‘An equal life without barriers is possible’. We host young people from all around Turkey that we invited to ‘Be the change’ in our academy. Young people join us to be happy, and make others feel happy. As volunteers, we work with one purpose: to give. The doors of Dreams Academy are open for everyone. We invite anyone, who wants to give unconditionally, and to be a part of the solution. As Dreams Academy, we will continue to teach people how to dream.”

3.000 volunteer applications in 3 years

Founded 3 years ago in Antalya, Dreams Academy Kaş operates in the 70-year-old Çukurbağ Primary School building, which has been renovated, protected and preserved historically and naturally. Dreams Academy Kaş is the most extensive living environment for people with disabilities in Turkey, and it is also know as the largest accessible outdoor camp in Europe. 1.200 students have broken their barriers with the support of 840 volunteers, who were elected among 3.000 applicants in 3 years in our center, where arts, sports, and training programs are being implemented under the supervision of educators and volunteer participants from all around Turkey.

100 volunteers per week 

An accession policy based on the socialization of people with disabilities with their peers is embraced, and a volunteering assistant program, that can provide one-to-one assistance when needed, is implemented in Dreams Academy Kaş. There are no age restrictions in Dreams Academy Kaş, while the majority of volunteers are between the ages of 18-25. High school and university students, families, artists, international volunteers, and private sector employees can be part-time, full-time, seasonal, or project-based volunteers. The volunteering period is 1 week for high school students, and at least 2 weeks for people over 18. Every week, 15 participants and 100 volunteers support the Alternative Camp, which is one of the two main activities in Dreams Academy Kaş, that hosted over 250 volunteers this year. In the Alternative Camp, groups and individuals who experience social exclusion are offered education, production, and community life services in sustainable, innovative, alternative methods. Volunteers can continue their volunteering activities 365 days in Dreams Academy Ataşehir.

First, training; then, support

Applicants who want to volunteer in Dreams Academy must apply with a letter of motivation and their résumés. After being trained in subjects like “Right Approach to Disability” and “The Principles of Volunteering”, volunteers give daylong assistance to project groups and participants. 44-person capacity wooden bungalows are offered, along with tenting facilities, for volunteers, who give support in kitchen work, ecological agriculture, the horse farm, mandalas, yoga, museums, Mehmet Uluğ Music House and library work, in addition to seasonal projects and workshops, such as theme camps, or festivals.

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