Watching Britain burn on a nightly basis has been heartbreaking. I took my daughter to London for a girl’s trip last Remembrance Day, and it’s with a heavy heart that she has taken in the violence erupting in a city she loves. Hearing that much of it is simply mindless destruction by the country’s youth, makes it that much more troubling. Many politicos and analysts are blaming cuts to social assistance and community programming. When you read about it, it starts sounding very much akin to what the Rob Ford government is planning to do in Toronto. Will our youth react in the same explosive way if the match is lit? It’s hard to tell, but it is something we should be thinking about.
There’s nothing new about disenfranchised youth, but there is in the way it manifests. There’s a reason they’re calling what’s happening in England The Blackberry Riots.
Scott Mills has an idea. Through social media, he hooked up with a bunch of graffiti artists to create the Graffiti Transformation Project.
As he says, “it’s all about engaging youth about making wise choices in their lives.”
The programme promotes teamwork, mentorship and time management, while bridging race relations and encouraging artistic expression. It also forges a positive bond with authority. Did I mention that Scott’s a policeman? These teens get to know him and see that the police aren’t the enemy. And if they ever see trouble, they know who to call.
I went to the unveiling of the latest mural to come out of the project. Listening to the teens explain how they collectively came up with the idea and what it meant to them was truly amazing. They wanted to reach out to countries that had recently been affected by natural disasters. From Haiti to Japan, they’re all represented. What they’ve created is a reminder that the eyes of the world are watching, and care, even after the media spotlight fades out.
These teens were heartfelt, and hopeful, and so full of positive energy, I wished more people would have the chance to speak with them. Especially their counterparts in England.