Streets to Stage Wrap Up
8 August 2016
Streets to Stage is a high impact performance to raise awareness of youth homelessness; created by young musicians who have previously experienced homelessness, our valued partners and The Salvation Army.
By Bee Orsini
Streets to Stage has three main objectives:
1. Identify root causes: To create a performance that deeply explores what causes youth homelessness and the effects of homelessness as two seperate focus areas.
2. Advocate for preventative action: To improve awareness of people at risk of homelessness and the level of support provided to them.
3. Encourage collective impact: The good news is there are youth services working tirelessly to break the cycle of homelessness for individuals every day. Streets to Stage was created in support of The Couch Project, The Salvation Army’s major campaign to generate funding for these services.
In our year-round school workshops, we facilitate a group activity where students are allocated the daily budget of the Centrelink youth allowance ($30) and asked to determine how they will divide this between accommodation, food and other expenses for the night.
With the sole objective of spending the budget in the most effective way, students find completing this activity difficult. Once they start to consider the many reasons decision making can be negatively influenced when experiencing homelessness - this is when the task starts to feel near impossible.
Streets to Stage equipped Owen and Dwaine with a platform to start a dialogue about some of these reasons. I was inclined to write 'to provide insight to students', however a large motivator for this tour was the empathetic reasoning that many students can already relate to their experiences in some way, whether it's because they're at risk of homelessness or have been through another adversity. In part, this tour was to highlight how similar and interconnected we are at the core of our diverse issues.
There are three profound themes discussed by Owen and Dwaine which are important to highlight:
1: “It’s hard to aspire to a future that is so hard to visualise”
“Forget trying to be someone, I’m just clinging to existence”
This is what Owen and Dwaine answered when we asked “what were your job prospects like?”
It is clear leaving school, lacking support and experiencing homelessness (whether on the streets, in cars and on couches) presented them with practical challenges such as health issues, lack of personal hygeiene, constant relocating and a lack of knowledge on how to construct a resume or navigate the job market.
However, there are also unspoken mental constraints that are often instilled prior to being homelessness - a lack of self esteem, feelings of fear and unworthiness and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
2: “Being stable is scary”
Stability can be daunting when all you’ve known is a life of instability. This can be due to a lack of support, self confidence and fear of the pressure that comes with responsibility. It can be the reason why someone tries hard at school all year but then doesn’t show up for the final exam or why someone gets a job but stops showing up after a week.
This highlights the incredible foresight needed and support required when the life of a young person is starting to improve. A culture is needed that accepts these setbacks will happen, mistakes will be made and rules will be broken and factors in these stages of the journey.
3: “I was still living rough but I started going to a music program by Musicians Making a Difference and the facilitator said to me 'You’re not a street kid anymore, you’re a leader - and it’s up to you to help others'”
“When someone sees past the grittiness and believes in you for you, not conditional - you start to believe in yourself”
Technically, Owen and Dwaine were still ‘street kids’ when these words of empowerment were spoken into their lives. There was a belief in their potential to help others while they were still experiencing homelessness. For both of them, this belief started to unlock something in their heart that had been closed for a long time. Giving them an opportunity to lead and help others gave them a reason to live and helped to make sense of their past.
It’s been an incredible privilege to bring Streets to Stage to NSW in 2016. It’s been a labour of love by the crew and our incredible partners. We are convicted by the inspiring work of educators making a difference to the lives of their students everyday and by the way young people enrich our communities. We looking forward to doing it all again in 2017.
If your School missed out, it's not too late to get involved. To celebrate the completion of this year's tour, we've released an offer for all Schools:Your students can also get involved in The Couch Project on the 16th of September by getting sponsored to spend a night on the couch. Your school can host an event or simply pass information about the campaign directly to your students.
A special thanks our 2016 Streets to Stage Schools:
Special thanks to our Streets to Stage Partners:
Photos courtesy of Daniel Robles and Regents Park Christian School.
Bee Orsini is a keynote speaker, facilitator and collaborator. She is passionate about working with educators and organisations to activate youth potential. www.beeorsini.com.au