We know that if we’re going to create sustained change, we need to start with the next generation. The Sawubona Lab 46208 was the result of a collaboration between The Learning Tree and IUPUI School of Public Health. We wanted to study how artistic practice can build capacity and build resilience; and create a front porch school where neighbors can teach the youth, in leadership, entrepreneurship, and art.
At the beginning of the summer, we began with a series of interviews to get to know our prospective “candidates.” To find those who were passionate, interested in learning, and who had a desire to give back to the community. We wanted to find out their gifts and talents. Without realizing, they were waiting for people to notice them and ask. We chose about fifteen youth, ages 10-18.
We met twice a week for six weeks. A few highlights include:
1. Sheep vs Wolves. Our get to know you game facilitated by our resident artist, Jamahl Crouch. The theme of the week was “Who is in my circle?” The game asks the question how does one discern who is safe and who might be a predator among them. Each time the game was played, new resources were added, from healers to lawyers to ministers.
The exercise involved thinking about different spheres of life each of us have (work, school, family, etc.). Consider the people who support you, who you can turn to when you’re in trouble. The youth then paired up to discuss their lists and why they chose the people they did. There was a reflection time to adjust their lists as they thought of new people. For the art practice, they then painted a portrait of your key support (or something that symbolizes them). We took the cards and connected them like a puzzle along any lines of mutual support.