SMH REPORTS MT DRUITT YOUTH PROGRAM BUILDING A LEGACY
NOFFS STREET UNIVERSITY REDUCES CRIME AND DRUG USE.All Media Room
The Mt Druitt Street University has held its first block party since the start of the pandemic. The event usually held at the end of each school term to celebrate clients’ artistic achievements, connect local youths with the organisation, and have some fun.
A 19-year-old artist by the stage name of Lxgcy started attending a few years ago when he was looking for a safe space to hang out and explore his creativity. He’s now employed there to run the studio and help other kids to get involved with making music – at the same time as getting noticed for his own. Lxgcy says it feels good to be able to show that “we can still bring this positivity and show creativeness and ingenuity regardless of our circumstances … it’s spaces like this that are giving kids the opportunity to do something like that”.
Next weekend, Lxgcy will take his rhymes all the way to the Opera House for The Street University Experience, a fact which “still hasn’t clicked” as he sits in the studio preparing his tracks.
“I’ve never been in the Opera House before, like I’ve seen it from a distance. It’s tripping me out that the first time I’ve ever been in the Opera House, I’m performing in it,” he says.
Rappers, singers, dancers, DJs and poets from Street University’s locations in NSW, Queensland and the ACT will converge for three shows.
Matt and Naomi Noffs pioneered the Street University program, which combines creative pursuits and life skills with counselling and addiction services for youth aged 10-25, launching the first centre at Liverpool in 2008 with New York rap icons Public Enemy. The movement has since expanded to Mt Druitt and Penrith, plus locations in Queensland and the ACT.
A study on the initiative by the University of NSW found that for young people with the service for three years, there were significant reductions in anti-social behaviour and improvements in relationships, community connections, education and employment.
When it comes to reducing antisocial issues among disadvantaged youth, Noffs says, “there is a deep correlation with the expression of ourselves. If we’re seeing reductions across [drug use, crime and mental illness] and increase in quality of life, that’s success.”
From SMH 15 April 2022
Photo credit: Rhett Wyman