New spin on getting ahead

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
Email Taylar Amonini

Nerves quickly turned into excitement as students at Hedland Senior High School threw their insecurities aside and showed off their best moves through the art of hip hop.

The Indigenous Hip Hop Project visited the local high school last week to hold workshops and show students how to not let negativity set them back.

Crew member Jessica Brooks said the key message behind the workshops were a strong mind, strong body, strong spirit, strong culture — and the students fully embraced that message.

“What we generally find in this age group is things such as shame and the whole exercise of putting yourself out there is stopping them from doing things and being their best selves,” she said.

“So we use dance as an example of how to not let shame and how other people think affect how you can be your best whether it’s in school, at home or with the family and to also love what you’re doing.”

After learning their own hip hop routine, students were invited into the middle of a circle to embrace their uniqueness and show off their dance skills to their peers.

After a moment of nerves, 14-year-old Tyrone McKenna put his hand up to be the first one to show off his skills.

Impressed with his show of leadership, Tyrone was promptly invited to the project’s Melbourne camp later in the year to shape and embrace his skills in dance, leadership and self love.

“One of the big things IHHP wants to do is empower youth, particularly indigenous youth, because a lot of our work is done out in remote locations,” Ms Brooks said.

“So if we can sort of target and find certain leaders who we want to use to help them, and we usually find there is one.

“It’s human nature to have leaders, so if we see someone being a good leader, we have to acknowledge it and try and help them set an example.”

Head Boy Torekana Bule-Turner also showed off his head-spinning skills as part of the project and said he got into hip hop in 2007 when the Indigenous Hip Hop Project ran its first set of workshops in Hedland.

“I like that hip hop is a mode of self-expression and that it’s a global culture that people all over the world connect through,” he said.

“I enjoy performing at school because I think it’s good for younger kids to see older students who aren’t afraid to express themselves through art and who feel free to have fun without feeling embarrassed.”

The Indigenous Hip Hop Project was formed in 2005 and comprises a team of artists in all elements of hip hop, media, entertainment and the performing arts who work extensively with indigenous and regional communities around Australia.

Hedland Senior High School deputy principal David Bryant said the initiative was brought to the school by the Wirraka Maya Health Service as part of a wider range of measures to positively engage students.

“Not only was this a fun and physical project for the students, but the program very closely aligns with our school’s core values of care, courtesy, respect and responsibility,” he said.

“The school’s health and well-being team is focused on building self-esteem in students, and we were pleased that the Hip Hop program’s key message was around students needing to step up in order to achieve their dreams, even when they might be nervous or embarrassed.”

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