At-Risk Youth Channel Creativity Into Music

SKNIS Photo: Mike Gerrand of Street Culture Project being interviewed

Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 25, 2013 (SKNIS): The transformational power of music is echoing loudly this week as Operation Future’s Creative Youth Academy wraps up its first music and video training workshop.

Adults and youth from around St. Kitts and Nevis have benefited from the expertise of Mike Gerrand of Street Culture Project, and Paul James of Just TV and the Hip Hop Academy who are facilitating the January 21 to 26 training being held at the St. Johnston Community Center.

Gerrand told SKNIS that they have been extremely busy since arriving from Canada.

“I couldn’t wait to see this place,” he stated, noting that the academy setup was impressive. The duo then began working with the Operation Future team and made a video called “Ain’t Gotta Be No Gangsta.” “We would do about eight or nine hours here at the center and then Paul and I will be working for four or five hours back at the house … but that’s great, that’s the way I want it.”

SKNIS Photo: Paul James of Just TV and the Hip Hop Academy

The concept and lyrics for the video was developed entirely by inmates from Her Majesty’s Prison who performed and shot the video along with other volunteers of Operation Future under the direction of Paul James.

“They took to it right away,” James said, referring to the training sessions and on location filming. “They are interested in the cameras and all the different technology we have here … and even one of the young guys ‘mini dred’ (as he is affectionately called) he is 10 or 11 years old, he was out there shooting with the camera and getting great shots.”

James added that youth who are at risk of joining a gang or are in a gang will likely heed the advice and warnings from peers who have had similar experiences. As such he feels that the video, which promotes rejection of the gang culture, will be more effective as it comes directly from youth who are living with the consequences of the antisocial activities.”

A video is also being produced with members of the Special Education Unit in Nevis. Teacher Violet Clarke and two other adults accompanied seven students to St. Kitts on Thursday to finalise the vocals for the project. Ms. Clarke explained that the video offers a sneak peek into the lives of the students and she was proud of the work done with the students.

SKNIS Photo: Teacher Violet Clarke (3rd from left, front row) and other persons from Special Education Unit Nevis

“The message of the song is very simple … It says we are capable we are able to do whatever we can do in our own capacities,” she stressed.

Police Constable Lauston Percival, oversees the programmes of Operation Future which is an initiative of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force. He thanked the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Government of Canada for their ongoing contributions to the success of the Academy which officially opened on December 07, last year. When we spoke to him an enthusiastic Percival summed up the outlook for Operation Future.

“Bright!” he exclaimed. “That’s one word. I can’t say anything else better than that.”

You might also like More from author