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“J’ai un rêve”: riding on a tide of success

Île-de-France - Paris
Social ties in priority neighbourhoods

When top ex-swimmer Muriel Hermine met college students with problems, the result was the “J’ai un rêve” association. This social solidarity project uses sport and culture to help to keep the heads of the academic system’s failures above water.



Former synchronised swimming French star Muriel Hermine challenges the teenagers (who have mainly stood out for their skills in avoiding school) to set up a show. Her “J’ai un rêve” association has been helping third- and fourth-year ZEP (priority education zone) students in the Paris region since 2003. “The project is spread over two years”,explains Catherine Simonnet, the communication manager. “During their third year, the college students attend sporting and cultural workshops designed to help them to create a show. They then present their show in public.” At the end of the year, the class receives a final reward for its efforts: a trip to a Senegali school twinned with the college. In their fourth year, another excursion awaits the students, in which they discover the corporate world.

After the show, down to business...

“The students really enjoyed their work throughout the year to stage the show, even if the pleasure was coupled with the constraints and hard work of learning,” says Patrick Hautin, the principal of the Georges Méliès college in Paris’s 19th district. “Everyone has unforgettable memories of their stay in Senegal.” The collaboration continues in the fourth year as the students plan their careers. Through the association, representatives from different sectors such as banking, transport, construction or retail present their profession in class. “The aim is to introduce the students to professions with which they are not necessarily familiar,” says Catherine Simonnet. “By taking them to visit a mechanical maintenance workshop or a construction project, we can enable them to see which profession they do or do not want. We then give them the chance to spend their fourth-year work placements in the companies.”

Better results through listening

Vincent Prince, a main works director at Lainé Delau (VINCI Construction) and the association’s sponsor, has been involved in the “J’ai un rêve” project for two years. In his view, “it is important to talk to the younger generations and be interested in them. We have a duty to do so. And it is also beneficial for the building professions, which require labour.” Since its creation six years ago, the association has helped 700 teenagers. In the opinion of Patrick Hautin, the results have been highly positive: “Our students have become more open, more respectful and perhaps also more aware of what their future involves.”

December 2009 © Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

VINCI Foundation works with Reporters d'Espoirs, a French news agency, to highlight and share the innovative social initiatives that it supports. The arrangement includes the writing of articles and exchange on topics that lead to solutions. Thus presented, the initiatives, validated using the criteria of the editorial charter of Reporters d'Espoirs, are intended to demonstrate their development and results.