Young people from all over the Northwest showcased skills at an International Culture Arts Network (I.C.A.N.) event in Derry’s Playhouse Theatre on Friday.
The event, known as ‘Street Talk’, saw young people from Derry, Strabane, Limavady and Magherafelt sample DJing, animation, photography, music production and met with officers from the P.S.N.I.
Friday’s event saw the young people gather in the main ground floor auditorium of the Playhouse where they were presented with certificates for completing the course and afterwards they were able to showcase their work.
Several senior PSNI delegates, including Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, attended Friday’s event.
Ms. Gillespie, who became the first female D.C.C. in Northern Ireland when she took up the post in 2009, said that she was impressed with how talented the young people are and added that she hoped that relations between the police and young people can improve through such initiatives.
“I think the work that the young people have produced is top-class,” said D.C.C. Gillespie.
“The PSNI helped to fund this initiative and I have to say that it’s money well spent - what the young people have achieved here is nothing short of excellent.”
One of the pieces of work on exhibition was graffiti art produced by young people from Enagh Youth Forum in Strathfoyle and graffiti artist Karl Porter.
“When I came here today, the piece of graffiti really caught my eye because it depicts the word hope,” she said.
“Hope is my favourite word as I like to think of it like this - Helps Ordinary People Excel - HOPE.
“Everyone in this room today is an ordinary person but with hope it gives us the chance to excel and with that comes ownership of society.”
The I.C.A.N. event came about when Elaine Forde from the Playhouse Theatre met with PSNI Neighbourhood Sergeant Sam Young to discuss a project to help young people learn new skills.
“None of this would have been possible without the help and support of the young people - their input has been invaluable,” said Elaine.
“I would like to thank the PSNI for all of their help and support - they part-funded the project too so without them it would have been difficult.
“It’s a joy to work on projects such as Street Talk as you see first hand the difference that the arts can make to young people.
“One of the things we wanted to focus on during this project was on young people who are at risk of engaging in antisocial behaviour.
“Once these young people are provided with alternatives they just blossom - the work they have produced, whether it’s graffiti art, music or animation, is top class and I couldn’t be any more proud of them all.”
Artists including Kwa Daniels, Eamonn McCarron and Karl Porter worked with the young people to help them address social issues such as sectarianism and anti-social behaviour through mediums such as light-box art, animation and sound recording.
“I’ve been blown away by what you, the young people, have come up with,” said Kwa Daniels.
“The young people produced a song with the help of Eamonn McCarron and it’s nothing short of amazing - the talent in this room is just out of this world he said.”
Brandon McElhinney is from Strathfoyle and is a member of the Enagh Youth Forum. Brandon helped to create the graffiti art piece, titled ‘Hope’.
Brandon said that he enjoyed taking part in the project as it came young people like him the chance to try out something different.
“I would like to thank everyone for giving young people like me a chance to do something like this.
“I benefited from taking part in the Street Talk project and I would definitely recommend it to other young people.”
I.C.A.N. is a three year project and is part financed by the European Union’s Regional Development fund through EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (Peace III).