GOAL NextGen ‘Spark’ - How A Creative Youth X-Change Became a Number One Hit

GOAL is a humanitarian aid agency that has been responding to crises around the world for the last 47 years. GOAL NextGen is the agency’s division dedicated to fostering Global Citizenship amongst young people.

Supported by Irish Aid, GOAL NextGen brings young people together from all over the world to deepen their understanding of Global Citizenship and to support a generation of young people who are passionate about a fairer and more sustainable future. GOAL NextGen aims to grow the next generation of advocates, activists and young leaders.

GOAL NextGen engaged THINKHOUSE to develop a platform for GOAL NextGen to empower more joyful opportunities for young people in Ireland to engage with the issues facing us today and the positive solutions that we can all play a part in (captured by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals).

The Approach

As a company powered by youth culture (and our annual research piece Youth Cultured Uncovered), we understand what makes youth in Ireland tick, what inspires them and how they connect with others. We knew that, “Irish youth are hungry for more peer-driven moments of joyful creative expression.” We also know that creative storytelling helps to empower action, inspiring through empathy. Creativity + storytelling = connection. Using this insight, we created GOAL NextGen X-Change, a series of creative collaborations designed to elevate and connect the voices of the next generation in a fun and engaging way on themes of global citizenship.

The X-Change platform for GOAL NextGen was inspired by a quote by Grace Lee Boggs: “A revolution that is based on the people exercising their creativity in the midst of devastation is one of the great historical contributions of humankind.” Aligning with a joyful space in creativity that we know resonates with a youth audience—an art-for-change approach—seemed a natural space for GOAL NextGen.

Our vision of utilising art as a catalyst for change and global solidarity came to fruition with an audio & musical collaboration: Spark.


We brought together seven creatives from countries around the world that GOAL are active in (Ireland, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Colombia) to collaborate on a music project. They included Irish/Ivorian singer Celavidmai, Irish singer songwriters Evan Flaherty and Darragh Purcell from the band Scoth, Ethiopian saxophonist Gene Tesfa, producer & DJ Edna Martinez from Colombia and Irish Nigerian illustrator Grace Enemaku.

The brief to them was to create something that represented their hopes for the future of activism and global citizenship. An original song ‘Spark’ was the end result. ‘Spark’ went straight to number one on iTunes upon release, serving as a first for Goal, THINKHOUSE, and some of the artists involved.

The song was written by Celavidmai, Flaherty and Purcell. Gene Tesfa played sax and Edna Martinez produced the track. The song celebrates how a united global community can nurture hope and positivity amid an alarming mix of crises across the world. This song was brought to life visually with the creation of a music video by THINKHOUSE, based on a striking illustration by Grace Enemaku.

The creation of ‘Spark’ was a natural progression of the X-Change platform, using art and music as a universal global language, brought together by seven amazing artists that spanned countries and continents. ‘Spark’ urges the world to forget their differences and work together for the common good, bringing together new voices & fresh ideas for change and global solidarity from Ireland, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Colombia.

The launch of ‘Spark’ was accompanied by the ‘Global Citizenship X-Change’ live event in THINKHOUSE, featuring a powerful live performance by spoken word artist Adam Muhammed. The event was catered by The Great Oven, and hosted two panel discussions, one with artists on ‘creativity and change’ and one with activists on ‘active citizenship’.


These panel discussions were recorded for the newly launched original GOAL NextGen X-Change podcast series hosted by RTÉ presenter and activist Emer O’Neill. The podcast series, produced by THINKHOUSE, connects young changemakers across the globe supporting cross-cultural collaborations and aims to explore and deepen understanding of global justice issues on multiple levels.

The Outcome

Resulting coverage from the X-Change campaign generated 860k+ reach across 8 media pieces and 97 social pieces, and a company and client first, a #1 iTunes chart-topper.

The launch event in THINKHOUSE drew a diverse and inclusive crowd of 100 attendees that included young activists, creatives, members of the media and friends of GOAL. The crowd embraced the nature of the Art X-Change by sharing meaningful quotes from their favourite works of art.

“THINKHOUSE has created a really strong brand platform for GOAL NextGen with X-Change. Their culture-first process has helped us to stand out in the NGO space with our campaigning, and led to really unique and creative activations and world-firsts for GOAL. Most importantly, the platform we’ve built puts creative youth collaboration at the heart of everything, which means the voices and messages that need to be heard are front and centre. We’re excited to build on this work with the team in the coming years.” Vikki Walshe, Global Citizenship Manager, GOAL Global.

Get Involved

Subscribe to the GOAL NextGen X-Change series and listen to the first three episodes today on Spotify, Apple or anywhere you get your podcasts.

Follow the action @goalnextgen on Instagram.

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