Care Day was established in 2016 as a day to celebrate the positive achievements and contributions of children and young people in care or with care experience, and on Friday 17th February, EPIC was delighted to celebrate its 8th national Care Day in partnership with Tusla and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth – both of whom EPIC thank for the continued support of this important day!
The #CareDay23 theme, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover, embrace our stories instead!’, was developed by children and young people from the EPIC Care Community and Youth Council and it aims to address stigma and challenge negative stereotypes about being in care. Through their theme, they encouraged people to learn about children in care, to look beyond the surface, and to see that every care-experienced child and young person is an individual with their own unique story, ambitions, and dreams for the future.
To kick things off, on Care Day eve, some of the children and young people from EPIC attended a special event at the CHQ Building in Dublin with friends and supporters to launch Embrace Our Stories.
Embrace Our Stories is a new photography exhibition by children in care and young care leavers. Through their images and voice recordings, they invite people to learn about their stories of hope, courage, talent, and achievement. Everyone was incredibly excited to have Minister Roderic O’Gorman open the event, which also had contributions from EPIC Youth Council members Clara and Kai, Minister Joe O’Brien, interim CEO of Tusla, Kate Duggan, and the Ombudsperson for Children, Niall Muldoon.
Care Day celebrations were held across Ireland and into the weekend with a variety of events organised and supported by #CareAware champions, all of which EPIC was equally delighted to partner on.
Mayo marked the day with the launch of a wonderfully creative art exhibition by children in care at the Linenhall Arts Centres – that you can still go and see by the way! The work on show is the culmination of a series of workshops held with children that was sphere headed by local Tusla staff, Foroige Connect, and the Irish Foster Care Association.
Meanwhile, in Limerick, there was a mini photography exhibition and coffee morning, and a very epic Care Day Lego wall that was built by a member of the EPIC Care Community – this young man also inspired this year’s Care Day “Stick Together Stand Together” Lego Challenge.
Down Cork way, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Deirdre Forde, attended a fun social gathering organised by the Tusla Cork team which also featured some incredible cakes baked by care-experienced young people, while DJ Stevie G from Red FM entertained the crowd.
Globally, messages of celebration and solidarity and news of other events flooded social media on the 17th – check out the hashtags #CareDay23 and #CareAware if you missed it!
EPIC want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who played a part, got involved, or showed their support on Care Day 23. It takes a village, community spirit, partnership and lots of creative, talented children and young people to celebrate being #CareAware. EPIC will be busy bringing the #CareAware message and Care Day 23 theme to new communities and localities this year. So, if you are interested in hosting the Embrace Our Stories Photography Exhibition, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.