This week saw the launch of the 2016 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund in Dublin, supported by disability rights campaigner, Joanne O’Riordan, alongside TV and radio stars, Eoghan McDermott and Pete Snodden.

Youth at its heart

The colourful vista of Dublin's very own graffiti mecca provided the vibrant backdrop to the launch of Coca-Cola's latest charity venture in Ireland.

The bold imagery emblazoned across every wall of the Tivoli car park in the heart of the city's historic Liberties district, made it the perfect location to announce a lively project that puts young people at its heart.

Helping young people

Now in its sixth year, the fund has already donated €625,000 to support community groups across the whole of Ireland. This year, the main focus is helping young people. The creative spirit behind the urban art hub is the sort of dynamism Coke wants to nurture and harness with the 2016 incarnation of the Thank You Fund.

130,000 reasons to get involved

To mark its 130th birthday, Coca-Cola has increased the amount it’s giving away to €130,000 in 2016. Find out more about the Thank You Fund and how to get involved.

A vibrant location for an exciting launch

Tucked behind the popular Tivoli theatre, in the shadow of the beautiful Christ Church cathedral, the car park off Francis Street has become a magnet for spray-paint artists from across the city and beyond – it is to Dublin what the famous 5pointz graffiti park is to New York.

‘Make a Difference’

Teenage disability rights campaigner Joanne O’Riordan, who once addressed the United Nations in New York, joined fellow Thank You Fund ambassadors, broadcasters Eoghan McDermott and Pete Snodden, at the launch.

“It’s time to dream big," said the Co Cork student, who last year was awarded ‘Outstanding Young Person of the Year’ by Junior Chamber International.

“With some imagination, this funding will help make a real difference to young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and I look forward to hearing about the creative ways this vision will be brought to life.”

Joanne chatted and posed for photos with her fellow ambassadors, while tourists skirted the proceedings, posing for their own pictures in front of the kaleidoscopic walls.

A ‘real opportunity’ for young people

TV and radio personality Eoghan talked about his passion for youth development.

He said the Thank You Fund offered a “real opportunity” for young people to steer their future.

“We want to hear from groups who have the passion and commitment to develop new and impactful projects that help young people to be a force for change in their local communities,” he said.

Helping turn ideas into reality

Having travelled down from Northern Ireland fresh from coming off air after his Cool FM breakfast show, DJ Pete was keen to stress the importance of the initiative.

"The future of where we live and society as a whole is all about youth and getting young people involved in society, and moving them on and developing them as people," he said.

Have you got a great idea?

June Trimble MBE, director of YouthAction Northern Ireland, said young people often got frustrated because they had a great idea but could not find a way to turn it into reality.

"I’m hopeful there are groups of young people as well as local volunteer groups that will put themselves forward and say 'we've a great idea, this doesn't take a lot of money but we just need a spark, a little bit of investment to make something happen for young people in our local community',” said Ms Trimble.

"I think that's really exciting."

Empowering young people

Matthieu Seguin, general manager at Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland, said the initiative was a great way to make a “real and lasting impact” in communities across the island.

“Young people are the change-makers in our society,” he said. “They have a vital role to play as leaders of our economic, social and community development, and we want to empower them to do so."

‘The youth are our future’

Aedamar Howlett, country manager at Coca-Cola Ireland, said she was excited about the fund's new direction.

"For us, one of the key things we'd like to do is empower youth more to make the change that they want to see within their communities and society in general, and we want to support them to do that.

“I hope we’re inundated with applications."

Applications for the Thank You Fund 2017 are now open. Find out more about the Thank You Fund 2017.