THE I CAN PROJECt
Exploring self development
for young children today
Interview by Ikesha Avo
Published 20th February 2023
(Above) Photo: Founder Dwayne Patrick; (below) lyrics : workshop drill courtesy of I CAN Project
“WHAT SHOULD YOU BE?!”
“ - CAN!”
Back in 2015, music producer and founder of I CAN Project, Dwayne Patrick, was a first time father to his then two-year old daughter. As a strong believer in the importance of programming the subconscious mind with positive beliefs, Dwayne set about instilling particular messages in his daughter.
He sought to find children's books with the positive messages he wanted but realised they were scarcely available - let alone ones that had a protagonist who looked like her. This marked a pivotal challenge for Dwayne. To overcome it, Dwayne initially created an I CAN book just for his daughter. This gave birth to the I CAN Project.
Within a year, Dwayne had self-published the I CAN children’s book and later started teaching workshops on the I CAN mentality to children and young adults.
Today, the I CAN Project is a self-development organisation on a mission to help children build confidence and self-esteem. The project is growing and has worked with children in the UK, Ghana, Nigeria, and Jamaica, as well as young adults in prisons within London.
Dwayne and I discuss the deeper ethos of the project and its relevance for all ages, mainstream education and how it challenges the status quo.
Ikesha Avo: Why do you think I CAN is necessary for young children?
Dwayne Patrick: I CAN is only needed because I realised that it was not being taught in schools. I looked at the curriculum and it doesn't teach enough about the subconscious mind. It doesn't teach you how to manifest or about self-love. It's there, but it’s [only a short period] of work on the mind in a whole year. It’s not seen to be as important as English or Maths, and I think it should be.
When I left school I tried to start my own business and I got hit by life. My studio got robbed. That was a great turning point for me. It was either give up now or keep going. A lot of people are hit with that decision. My thing is to prepare each child for this period that will come.
When I taught people serving time in prison, I realised many didn’t have positive influences at all. They didn’t know what I was talking about, they only knew one way of thinking.
It showed that your surroundings really have an impact on your life. They loved the information I shared with them. It's stuff they already know deep down but it just wasn't exposed to them. What I’ve realised is that we should be grateful that we've got role models to look upon.
I taught this child and she was amazing. But I knew where she was coming from, in terms of her family was doing all sorts of negative things. I thought this child is set up for failure based on the circumstances and influences around her.
Even though she’s putting up her hand and she’s giving the I CAN energy, I'm just thinking to myself, this is a good seed right here but without the environment, she’s just going to end up like them. Hopefully she doesn't. My aim is that we plant a seed.
The positive effect that comes from good role models and nourishing social environments on a child's development should not be understated. Teaching this within prisons exposed Dwayne to a group of individuals who shared a common thread of missing positive figures and knowledge in their formative years. Intervention with right tools can change the trajectory for any individual as Dwayne explains.
IA: Explain the importance of visualisation and programming the subconscious mind?
DP: For me visualisation is very important because if you create a new possibility for yourself. You could be in a situation but if you visualise, you actually create another possibility for yourself. That's why I think visualisation is essential.
The subconscious mind is important because it's access to how we alter our reality.
It dictates your future and dictates how you see things. So if you want to change your reality, you have to change your subconscious mind.
Everything that we've been told, growing up [informs] how we see the world. And that's how we live our life through that lens. But once we become aware, we then can alter our subconscious mind. Then we can start creating a new reality.
Like many entrepreneurs, Dwayne’s personal growth is essential to his business’ growth. Dwayne credits his father for showing him an example of entrepreneurship. Although, he is also honest about the disappointments from his father that impacted him - and most importantly, what he chose to do about it.
DP: The subconscious mind is the past. I’m going to use myself as an example to give it more clarity. Growing up, my Dad let me down a lot. That led me to not feeling good enough, trying to prove myself to people. It left me with a lot of feelings. That went into my subconscious mind and became my being.
As I got older, I’m looking at life through these lenses. How I treat people is based on the past - my subconscious mind. Everyday, how I see love, how I see everything, just my vision, is based on the past. The power of the subconscious mind is automatic.
For example, there could be people that are showing me love but I won't see it as love. People trying to reach out to me, trying to do things with me. I’ve noticed that I’m always at arms reach. It's because of the way I see things - that’s what I mean by it's automatic.
The past is dictating how I see the future. How to overcome this is to drop those stories that I’ve had of my Dad in this particular example. If I drop the stories of my Dad now, then I’ll be in the present moment and I can create a new possibility for myself. Before the past was dedicating my future, now because I am letting go of these stories, I am able to create a new reality.
IA: What is the power of manifestation?
DP: The power of manifestation is having an idea and turning it into something tangible. In [mainstream] school they focus solely on the conscious mind but that part of the brain is not what brings ideas alive. It’s the subconscious mind that helps you to manifest. We teach the power of the subconscious mind in a fun way so children can overstand.
Dwayne Patrick leading I CAN workshop within a school
I have worked with a child who built [machines]. His Mum phoned me up and said I’ve got a really smart child but he’s just not confident, he doesn’t put his hand up in school. She booked two I CAN block sessions for him, and I took on the information she shared. I really pushed him. I let him stand up in front of the classroom, teach about [machines], teach what he’s passionate about. He went on to be CEO of his own company. So I’ve definitely seen the impact that I CAN has on young people.
Like many entrepreneurs, Dwayne’s self development is connected to the development of his business. As I CAN is particularly about building self belief within children this is perhaps more particular essential for him.
DP: Self development is really important. It's essential because in life, there will be adversity that comes. Children need to be able to have the tools to deal with the adversities. Most people stay in situations that they don't want to be in and live a miserable life because they weren't given the self development tools.
They did not have the training, nobody taught them. They don't teach it in schools. Although it's the parents job to teach the children, to prepare the children, parents haven't got time nowadays. Self development is important because it helps children navigate through life.
I love self-development, I love bettering myself. And by bettering myself, by reading the information, it's bettering the project.
I CAN delivers the messages of self development to children using interactive workshops, empowering songs and affirmations. From initially starting with a book which developed into delivering I CAN Workshops, Dwayne also launched a music production programme called the I CAN Music Express and hopes to grow more.
IA: What next for I CAN Project?
DP: What is next for I CAN is we are going to grow the business online so that we can capture more young people. So we are going to have an online portal, online system in place. Also we are going to train more people up so we can get into more schools at the same time. And also, in the future, this is long term goal is to create some sort of school, hub where young people can come to and receive self development.
Photo credits: All photographs included in this article are by Ikesha Avo. All copyrights reserved.