Our mission is… to help children disadvantaged by fate…
Island was founded on 23rd of September 1990. Until December 1993 it was a part of The Superintendent of Schools Office in Katowice as a Superintendent’s Point for Defending Pupil Rights. Stefan Sierotnik, the Ombudsman for Pupils at the time, was the initiator and the founder of the organization. On 13th of December 1993, as a result of quick growth, Island became a non-govermental organization – The Association Defending Rights and Dignity of Children Island – with quarters in Chorzów and led by its first President, the late Stefan Sierotnik. In 1997 building works started on The International Volunteer Meeting House “Christmas Eve Town” which eventually became the organization’s current base in Chorzów.
The core of Island’s operations has always been the belief that, apart from standard help such as temporary ad hoc help, clothing and feeding, the most important actions are those which awaken children’s ambitions and raise their self-esteem. This gives them the tools as they grow up to enable them to break out from the vicious circle and dangers of generational poverty.
In order to achieve our mission we primarily seek out people in the community who could be role models and ambassadors for children and youth. Over the years, thanks to those people as well as our friends and sponsors, we have been able to execute our nonconventional approach to defending children rights through various original ideas, programs and projects.
We Envision. The project that stands out in our history was establishing in 1991 the first Children and Youth Parliament in Poland. It is an achievement that we will always proudly mention and remember. It was acknowledged and applauded by the United Nations and our representatives were invited to take part in a session of the UN General Children Assembly in USA.
We Believe. A long term project of ours was one that helped many troubled young people to rebound and find new purpose thanks to positive role modeling from our leaders. We dubbed this project “Not so bad at all” to send a message to these young people and the wider community that there is always hope and it’s never too late for positive change.
We Share. We motivate the local community and respond to different appeals in times of crisis and natural disasters. During the floods in Poland in 1997 and 2001, Island together with a regional newspaper “Dziennik Zachodni” and the Polish German Youth Office organised summer holidays for children from families affected by the devastating floods. In 2008 and 2009 we also organised goods collections for victims of further floods. In December 2013 we collected and distributed blankets and sleeping bags for young people protesting at Majdan in Ukraine.
We Cooperate. Amongst the most important aspects of our operation is our international cooperation with the Polish Catholic Mission in Dortmund, Polish German Youth Office and 30 years long partnership with our twin organization in Ukraine – The Association Defending Pupils Rights “Forteca” from Tarnopile. In October 2005 on the grounds of The International Meeting House a foundation stone was laid under The Little Ukrainian Embassy thus establishing a base for Forteca in Poland. This symbolic gesture has reinforced the strong links between Island and Forteca and from this base Island have helped them promote Ukrainian culture, tradition and customs in the EU. Every year together with our partner organisations from Germany and Ukraine we organize trilateral work-camps funded by the Polish German Youth Office. During those meetings young people help us with our pedagogical work and initiatives for children and they can also participate in a variety of workshops that help them to develop or discover different skills. Our film work-camp in particular, co-organised with students and graduates of the Wroclaw Academy of the Dramatic Arts, has become a cherished tradition.
We Never Stop. Island operates all year round. Along with Summer, cyclic, ad hoc events and projects, for nine months of the school year we run after school Socio-Therapeutic Community Workshops – currently hosting a group of 40 children. Every day work and activities are supported by our original projects such as our Positive Role Models Academy – a series of meetings with famous and positive personalities from the world of art, sport and TV as well as politicians and church representatives. Also, the participants of the International Skills Academy, volunteers from our partner organisations abroad, contribute their unique skills and help us run after school workshops and our Summer and Winter school break day camp projects. Their involvement adds enormously to the value of our projects as it gives our children a chance to experience different cultures and languages.
Thanks to many inspirational people and original initiatives, for over two decades, Island has succeeded in bringing up generations of creative and ambitious young people who are confident in their values. Thanks to the opportunities from Island these young people are now upright and conscientious citizens. And as they say themselves “Island has become their second home”.