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Pacific creativity and talent has been showcased by a group of young South Aucklanders and performing artists through the Youth Arts Space Rheumatic Fever Creative Hub.
Organised by the Youth Performance Trust (YPT) – a Pacific Community Innovations Fund recipient – the initiative brought together young South Auckland artists and experienced mentors to develop a unique response to rheumatic fever through dance, music and visual arts.
Twenty-five students took part in the programme. They learned about rheumatic fever, created a dance, composed and recorded a song 'Change Your Fate', and designed and printed t-shirts with their own rheumatic fever prevention message. This activity culminated with several public performances in Otara and Mangere in front of hundreds of people, allowing workshop participants to get their message into the community.
The song 'Change Your Fate' debuted on Niu FM radio's Afternoon Drive show in mid April 2015, with a final version sent to a range of Auckland radio stations in the last week of April.
A round-up video of the workshop and performances was released in mid April 2015. Social media response to the video has been overwhelmingly positive.
YPT coordinator Aaron Taouma said although there were many successful creative development outcomes from the project, it was important to ensure the key rheumatic fever prevention messages were understood by the youth artists.
"Participants reported that before coming to the workshop, they had limited knowledge of rheumatic fever, the relationship between sore throats, rheumatic fever and the possibility of rheumatic heart disease," he said.
"But after the workshop, all the participants reported knowing the link between sore throats and rheumatic fever, the importance of getting a sore throat checked early and completing a full course of antibiotics, as well as things they could do to keep households healthy.
"The 'Change Your Fate' message gives hope to the concept that one can change their fate in a world that perceives there only to be one fate for them. It also relates to the preventable nature of rheumatic fever and how we can all change the fate of the prevalence of rheumatic fever in communities, especially like South Auckland, and make a difference."
Mr Taouma said it was evident from the audience response to the public performances that people were captivated and engaged.
"Feedback I have received from people within the Otara/Manukau region is that they get a message of inspiration and increased awareness about rheumatic fever. It also made them seek out further information about it," he said.
The Youth Arts Space: Rheumatic Fever Creative Hub ran from 8-10 April, with public performances in the Otara and Mangere town centres on 11 April.
During its performance, the group was based at Fresh Gallery Otara. It was able to project a video made during the course on a wall outside the gallery.
Hub tutors included: Aaron Taouma (coordinator), Lance Su'a (music mentor), Justin Haiu (dance mentor), Albert Fale (dance assistant), Taga Tanuvasa (graphic arts mentor), Sione Faletau (performing arts mentor), Feleti Strickson-Pua (song writing mentor), and Courtney Sina-Meredith (spoken word mentor). The hub also had support from Ernest Semu (song instrumentation) and Elena Lome.
Check out the Youth Arts Space video: https://vimeo.com/128235892
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