Breaking down the barriers in Leckagh

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THE showcase of a groundbreaking project designed to use the Arts to break down the barriers between young people from Leckagh Drive in Magherafelt and the PSNI took place at The Playhouse Derry/ Londonderry.

Several senior PSNI delegates, including Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, local neighbourhood officers, arts representatives and community leaders joined young people and their families to attend the showcase in The Playhouse on Friday (August 24)

Thirty-five young people from Derry- Londonderry, Magherafelt, Limavady and Strabane were presented certificates of achievement and many awarded OCN certificates for their participation in ‘Street Talk’, a new project by the Playhouse International Arts Network (ICAN) and the PSNI.

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Using graffiti, DJing, animation and light box art, the young people used the arts to explore issues such as sectarianism, anti-social behaviour e.g. graffiti, and each community’s relationship with the PSNI.

Artists collaborated with the youth people from Enagh, Strathfoyle, Leckagh Drive Estate in Magherafelt, Bovalley & Roe Valley in Limavady and Strabane in their communities for a month. This was followed by a one week project bringing the all the young people together to meet and create new works of art and music.

Lightboxes exploring the ritual of bonfires were created, along with a model of their own imagined idyllic city, where social and political issues are eliminated.

Animations that highlight the theme of joyriding and violence were made, as well as a track produced, written, and synthesised by the young people called ‘Falling Through the Stars’.

Several young people achieved OCN accreditation through the project, and were presented with a certificate at the special awards ceremony and exhibition of the work.

Speaking at the presentation, Deputy Chief Constable, Judith Gillespie said, “The work of the young people on display was absolutely fantastic. A recent thematic review, undertaken by the Policing Board, identified that whilst the Service recognised the role young people play in any effective policing strategy, children and young people had indicated that they can have very different experiences of the police, depending where they live. This is one of a number of important partnership initiatives which provides the opportunity for police officers and young people to work directly with each other to share experiences, break down barriers and create greater understanding.

“This has clearly been a very positive initiative which has changed perceptions both on the part of police officers and young people - and I hope to see it replicated in other areas across Northern Ireland.”

Street Talk is part funded by the PSNI and also part-financed by the European Union’s Regional Development fund through EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (Peace III) managed through Special EU Programmes Body.