Harold Hill pupils feature in exclusive Smiling boys project challenging negative perception of young black boys
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 January 2020
A group of pupils from Harold Hill featured in an exclusive photography exhibition for a project which aims to challenge negative perceptions of young black boys in the media.
Twenty Year 9 students from Drapers' Academy in Settle Road had their portraits displayed as part of an exclusive exhibition at Drapers' Hall in Liverpool Street on Monday, January 27.
Over the course of eight weeks an interdisciplinary artist, photographer and musician Kay Rufai, worked with the boys in order to develop their sense of self and to improve their wellbeing.
The boys, their parents and teachers from Drapers' Academy came out in force to attend the event in the prestigious Drawing Room at Draper's Hall.
The activity is part of the Send Me Inspiring Loving Energy (Smiling boys) project which is responding to a rise in knife crime.
With the use of photography poetry and immersive art projects, Smiling boys aims to empower young black boys by providing tangible coping strategies to manage their mental health.
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It also adapts research and data in order to find out how it can be used in the everyday lives of the boys so they can have sense of agency over factors that affect their future and wellbeing.
Vice principal, Julie Richardson said: "We are incredibly proud of the boys that were involved in this project. It brought together this cohort, to explore the complexities around masculinity, identity and prejudice, enabling the boys to see their worth and their unique qualities.
"Too many young boys see negative representations of themselves and feel pressured to emulate a particular type of masculinity. Kay Rufai showed them there is another way."
Smiling boys works to improve the wellbeing of young black boys between the age of 13 to 25 through workshops, mentorship and field study.
The project used the eight pillars of happiness as designed by the Happiness Institute in Copenhagen.
Smiling Boys explores how teaching these principles can have an impact on the rising numbers of youth violence and murders in the UK over the past year.
Headmaster Tim Orchard, who also attended the event, added: "The photographs and Kay Rufai himself were rather mesmerising."
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