Social Work Through HipHop
Typically this program is the initial program brought to Canadas inner cities and remote communities.
I t is an intense 5-day program where up to 100 youth learn to dance, while also discovering themselves and their own culture. When they are tired from the physical activities they are engaged with cultural activities that explore ways of celebrating and bringing their own voice into HipHop. We often do things like combine Inuit Throat Singing with Beatbox, (we call it Throat Boxing) or explore traditional drumming, dances and songs. We will also engage elders with the youth and create opportunities to re-build trust and communication between them. An elder trying their hand at Dj scratching is a great example of sharing a human moment.
We explore the movement and athleticism of Inuit games and reflect on its similarities to HipHop. Youth are always encouraged to use their own story telling and cultural symbols in their dance.
All of this comes together in a final community showcase and dance battle. This evening has often been described in many of the communities where we have done projects as the largest community gathering for anything in over 20 years (if you can kick bingos butt in the north your doing something right). It is a time of celebration, pride and hope, as parents and elders see some of the most shy and reserved youth in their community blossom with a new sense of self-confidence and pride.
Threaded throughout the week are daily themes that seek to address and talk about the many complicated issues going on in young peoples lives. The negative images of HipHop shown on TV are challenged as we move youth away from Gangsta images and those of disrespecting women. Positive methods of dealing with anger are explored and a bully free environment is experienced and visualized for the future. Healing takes place as family violence, sexual abuse, suicide and addictions are examined. We teach youth how to reach out and support each other in communities that have limited resources while also linking them to the few resources that do exist in their community.
We also create great opportunities for adults to become more closely aligned with the youth they work with. Teachers, Principals, Social Workers, Police, Public Health officials and Elders are strongly encouraged to humble themselves and participate side by side with the youth. Adult participants often describe this week as the most powerful professional development they have ever experienced and as a result, it directly impacts in a positive way on their relationships with the youth they work with.
This initial program often creates such excitement in a community that an ongoing HipHop club immediately forms at the request of the youth. It will be consistent ongoing adult support that will ensure that this positive energy and empowerment can continue to grow.