Misunderstood communities: Creative spaces for young people
Having some form of creative access growing up, kept me stimulated and communicative
with others. It took the pressure off of getting the perfect grades to work towards specific
future goals. Having been exposed to creative facilities like Roundhouse and Canada Villa, a
youth service that had a music studio, made me think about what I actually wanted to do in
the future, and broadened my options.

These places were not only places for creative practice, but opened the space for further
conversations to take place too. Sometimes, young people would come to distress or talk
about hardships at school. Some weren’t at school, and had other stresses. Having a safe
space to just be, made those teen years a far easier time.

What happens when you do not know where to start or where to look?

Living in Edmonton, and being exposed to crime that took place in the local park, or the shop
that was once your friendly off-licence shop for the essential items. Beneath the hard faces
that the youth present, are young young people unable to navigate what to do next.

What happens when you fall victim to circumstance? The same postcode, the same social
bubble, and confined to the limited opportunities presented to you. Some may argue it’s a
sense of home, living in the same space, with the same friends, and being able to “be in the
know” about each and every street, like it’s second nature.

During our stay in Edmonton green, during my teen years, mum and I had to use the local
laundry service to do our washing. After carrying all our dirty clothes in large, rather
eye-catching Ikea bags, we were welcomed by a bunch of young boys, laughing and playing
loud music outside of the laundrette. Their conversations were loud and led to an arguably
aggressive tone. Mum and I carried on walking and Proceeded to carry on with our own
conversation. Labelled troublemakers, maybe the ones who skip class, or maybe they are
the ones that I saw on my first day here in Edmonton, stealing a snickers chocolate bar from
the corner shop.

 

While stories and stereotypes are continuously plastered on young people,
what are they meant to do to change it? Who will support them in doing this? It’s an ongoing
battle. This cluster of young boys lowered their music and asked if we needed help carrying
the clothes.

While young people in Edmonton and other low economic areas receive an unfair label, I
believe that they are passionate, and are far more knowledgeable about the system’s flaws.
The responsibility and weight seems to be far heavier for the youth in these deprived areas.
Aside from balancing school, potensial work life, home life, family responsibilities, living
under the poverty line and trying to direct a clear future, it is exhausting.

 

What happens Next…
It is an ongoing cycle, until they are exposed to other productive/creative options, just like
the ones I did, and still do access myself. How are young people able to navigate this
without the knowledge of the endless things on offer? Even if they are accessible, we need
to collectively, teach young girls and boys, there are opportunities to stimulate, be productive
and explore creativity elsewhere. There are organisations that will validate and help you, if
conventional learning in a classroom setting doesn’t always work.

We cannot turn a blind eye to young people who result in hanging outside local shops, and
laundry services. What a frustrating way to spend time, with no money to go and explore
elsewhere. I believe that if we start using our voices to expose young people to creative
options, that are beyond the postcode region, we can work towards reframing attitudes and
intentions.

Creativity has always played a therapeutic role in my life, and having access to a studio
place, helped me transition into adulthood in a far fluid way. If we had more places for young
people to explore their emotions, or without a sense of expectation, then we would be
working towards creating a safe, engaging place for young people moving forward.

Written by Milli-Rose Rubin

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