Community youth group ‘airs its dirty laundry’

TWO young people with a strong community vision have brainstormed a creative way to spread the message about the negative effects of violent behaviour.

Chris Hyland and Mary Nichols from Bridgewater’s Young People in Action (YPiA) group have launched the ‘airing our dirty laundry project’, with the assistance of their fellow YPiA members.

The Young People in Action Group is uniting to make its voices heard in the community.
The Young People in Action Group is uniting to make its voices heard in the community.

The innovative has project come into force as a result of discussions among the group’s members concerning their feelings being at blame for the violence that occurs within the community.

The young people felt as though they were trying to survive in a world created by adults, and for this reason, believed that adults were not prepared to listen to their reasoning.

To address this issue, the YPiA group has planned to investigate the ways violence affects youth in Bridgewater and Gagebrook, and to let adults know about the impact. Communicate

They devised the project’s name after researching various clothesline projects as an effective mechanism to get their message heard in the community.

Project member Chris Hyland said the group planned the sorts of things they would like to do as young people.

“We conducted an anonymous survey across the community asking questions such as ‘how does violence in our community affect you’, and then asking ‘what are your ideas to make a difference?'” he said.

“We received responses from about 70 young people which appeared to take on a similar theme – young people felt sad about the violence in the community, they felt powerless to stop it, they were scared and angry and worried they would get picked on.”

Chris said there are various ways to help make a difference in this area included telling the community about the effects of violence, getting to know police, telling people that violence is not OK, and respecting others.

“We have decided to put the responses given by the young people on t-shirts so they could display them to raise awareness of the issues in the community – truly airing our dirty laundry,” he said.

The t-shirts were displayed at a recent Brighton Alive network meeting held at the Civic Centre, with further public display being considered to take place.

The group has also planned a short film to maximise the impact of the t-shirts, and which could be an education resource. The three-and-a-half minute film was designed to highlight statements from young people about how violence affects them together with pictures of fire-damaged houses and empty blocks after the event of a fire.

Chris said he hopes the film, combined with other initiatives such as forums and events, will be positively received to help promote discussion and action towards a violence-free community.

“The real job is to convince people that violence especially affects young people and children,” he said. “Young people shouldn’t have to be tough survive.”