A new initiative seeks social change through the arts. REACH, short for Research, Education and Advocacy for Social Change, is backed by a group of concerned Belizeans with expertise in social research and development and has as its mission to foster community self-evaluation, social change and more informed policy and decision-making through high quality social research. Today they launched their first project, ImagineNation, in which a target group of 15 young men got the opportunity to express themselves and their lives through the arts. We spoke to a few of them. First, Steven Gabb tells us why there is nothing wrong with men being poets.
Steven Cabb – Poet:
That’s the stigma about poetry. They believe that it’s feminine. They believe that it’s not a way that a man should be. But I love poetry and I do poetry because it is a way of expressing myself and it could be in any way, like a comedic way that we just did. It’s showing what we think about, how we feel and what we actually really want to be seen.
Keon Gabourel – Poet
It’s a tool to utilize because sometimes many males end up in the prison system because of one mistake. Poetry can be the tools used to express yourself on paper instead of taking it out on someone else. so utilize self-expression and any other artistic means.
Gabb, whose stage name is “Saga: The Next Chapter,” partnered with Denzil Wade and Kieran Gabourel for a comic dialogue on relationships. Wade tells us why the arts is a ticket out of social depression.
Denzel Wade – Poet:
Instead of using guns I think we should start using words. Use words so that we can benefit our intellect, and also so that we don’t have to resort to violence in terms of whatever conflict or altercation we come across with somebody. We don’t have to like resort to violence ,or want to kill up each other. There’s more to life than just being out on the street and wanting to follow people in our society in terms of negative influences.
This poetry that we are doing, personally, is very influential to me in a positive way because I come from St. Martin’s and all the kids that I’ve seen grow up in that area don’t make it as far as I am. So I want to show them that you can actually be someone even if you come from that part of town.
You can actually be somebody positive. You can actually make something of yourself. Even if you dont have all the money in the world, you can just take part in a small youth group and make something of yourself.
Participant Antoine Gillett says this is something for everyone.
Antoine Gillett – Artist:
We have been working together for about five months, preparing for this art show. I believe that this art show is just the beginning of what could become a really productive lifestyle for us. Each and everyone of us can find out own medium that makes our expression come out. This is just the beginning of [how] REACH can help every other youth [achieve].
A formal launch of the art and poetry exhibition takes place tomorrow at 7:00 at the Image Factory.