"Something is happening ?"Asks a young boy in the gym at Dream School in East Harlem. He is right to be surprised. François Hollande has just arrived with a procession of a good thirty guests, journalists and photographers, while forty students swing bags in hoops at the four corners of the room such as throwers.
The former head of state came to participate, Monday, November 18, in the signing of a new partnership between Dream and the French association Sport in the City, laureate 2018 of a scholarship from France undertakes, foundation launched in 2014 by François Hollande to support solidarity projects. The two groups, connected in 2004 under the impetus of a patron (the video game company Atari), seek to promote the integration of disadvantaged young people through sport.
Dream is "an innovation around the sport. We all have to learn from others. In the United States, a very liberal country with a president that I do not need to present, we could say to ourselves: what is being done? What is not done anymore? There are social innovations of a very high quality that can inspire our country", Says the former president, who left with a basketball jersey in the colors of the school.
With his partner actress Julie Gayet, the CEO of Carrefour (and support for Sport in the City) Alexandre Bompard and the new French ambassador to the United States Philippe Etienne, he made a guided tour of the headquarters of Dream, an association founded in 1991 to help 2,500 young people in Newark, East Harlem and the South Bronx through out-of-school programs, summer camps and charter schools. The association, which has experienced strong growth in recent years, has just opened a new charter school in the South Bronx, poor district of the Bronx.
François Hollande then delivered, in English and French (with the assistance of a translator), a question-and-answer session with a group of students to whom he notably recalled that "to be an American is to be responsible for the rest of the world". They questioned him pell-mell about leadership, the importance of sport in France, colonization, the possibility of French financial compensation for slavery in Haiti. "Thanks for the invitation!"Joked the ex-elected, obviously surprised by the content of the questions. A student asked him if he considered himself a communist, triggering the hilarity of the room.
But the two stars of the event were Sport in the City and Dream. Every summer for fifteen years, "between twenty and thirty young people"Of the French association created in 1998 come to volunteer in Dream in New York while a"around twenty"Dream's young people are going to France," says Philippe Oddou, founder and president of Sport dans la Ville, which deals with 8,000 young people in 45 priority neighborhoods in France. "These are programs that change the lives of our young people. There is a before and an after. They leave their neighborhood for the first time. Overnight, they are projected into a different reality, which gives them strength", Continues Philippe Oddou.
The new partnership signed Monday for a period of five years will increase the number of young people participating in exchange programs, strengthen partnerships between the two associations and the private sector and promote the exchange of good practices. Gol de Letra, the reintegration association of ex-footballer Raì, also participates in this new partnership, but the star of the round ball could not be present at the event for lack of ESTA.