Art helps young offenders

By Victoria White

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Maggie Barry.
Maggie Barry.

The efforts of nine Hawke's Bay young offenders to "be part of the solution" by changing people's behaviour and attitudes and promoting road safety were recognised last night.

The annual Arts Access Awards 2016 were held in the Banquet Hall at Parliament, hosted by the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Maggie Barry.

The achievements of those who provided opportunities for people with limited access to engage with the arts were celebrated. This included RoadSafe Hawke's Bay, which received the Arts Access Corrections Community Award 2016 for its efforts to create new ways of supporting offenders' rehabilitation, and reintegration into the community.

With assistance from Hawke's Bay Regional Prison residential manager Leonie Aben, and co-ordinator Brenda Ferguson, a graphic design project to create road safety resources was developed. As well as raising awareness of the consequences of poor driving decisions, the project provided the men with education, training and skill development.

Ms Aben said the project, which began in May 2015 and ran for three months, was not easy to begin with as the men came from different places, backgrounds and gangs and were not initially responsive.

"These boys have heard so many things in their lives. It's not easy for them to believe in others or themselves but finally they decided to give it a go and see where this project would take them," she said.

Working alongside Little Red Robot designer Bex Bloomfield, however, the men became inspired when they saw their ideas becoming real designs, and began to work as a team and feel proud of their work.

Some now saw graphic design as something they would like to continue after they were released.

The artwork of two of the participants was erected as billboards on Hawke's Bay Regional Prison property and will also be installed along State Highway 2 at Paki Paki.

There were six other awards.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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