Teens stop traffic

PICTURES: KATE BAKER PHOTOGRAPHS

A recent youth art project that saw teenagers take to the streets of the Hills to break misconceptions about young adults was so successful it stopped traffic.

The Hear ME Performance Youth Art project took place on Saturday 10 April, with teens taking to the streets in bright hoodies and flashmobbing to attract attention to messages they had written on signs.

The messages aimed to break down societal misconceptions about teenagers, saying things such as ‘we should be accepted for who we are’, ‘sometimes we feel grumpy and lack motivation just like you’ and ‘we appreciate when you acknowledge our opinions, listen and have faith in us’.

Hear ME Performance Youth Art project coordinator Dani-Ela Kayler described the day as a “buzz”.

“We had a good amount of traffic coming through Belgrave that saw it and we stopped traffic with people taking photos from the side of the road,” she said.

“We had about 45 people in a travelling audience following us as we moved around town.

While the wet weather kept the performers on their toes, the event was an all-round success, with many new connections made between the youths and their families.

“There were so many new connections made which was one of the main outcomes I wanted for the project, for kids who live locally but attend different schools to forge new friendships. I saw two families that decided to have lunch together after the event, that sort of thing makes it all worth while,” Ms Kayler said.

The teens attended a number of workshops in the lead up to the big day where they worked together to decide what messages they would convey to the public.

“The kids were such professionals, they turned up on time, got themselves organised, warmed themselves up. I told them I would without question hire and work with each and every one of them. It was such a joy and testament to this generation that I was very privileged to work alongside,” she said.

The free program was supported by Yarra Ranges Council.

“The community support for the arts and young people was amazing. I got such great support, I had local residents put up a billboard, Belgrave Cameo put up an ad, local business put up posters – as soon as they heard it was young people they just said yep whatever we can do. It’s a good little community up there that look out for each other,” she said.