"We were always in trouble and if someone had been about to harness our energy through music perhaps our lives wouldve been different"
A Northumberland outdoor education provider is getting down with the kids to improve young people’s aspirations through the medium of music.
Ashington based Off the Grid Adventures works primarily with young people who don’t access mainstream education services or those who have been turned away previously. Their work with harder to reach young people includes one to one mentoring, team working skills and outdoor activities including gardening, bush craft, overnight camping and archery.
Now however, thanks to support from UK Youth Funding, a new pilot project aimed at improving teenager’s emotional health and wellbeing is being trialled in the Newbiggin by the Sea and Ashington areas. The Decks and Music project reaches out to teenagers who have been shut away in their bedroom during lockdown and are finding it difficult to adjust to their lack of normal schooling and social interaction.
CEO of Off the Grid Adventures, Paul Kirkpatrick has enlisted the help of three local celebrity DJs and MCs to inspire young people into taking an interest in music and the benefits that it brings.
Jamie Burt aka MC Bertie from Newbiggin by the Sea, Jimmy Mason aka MC Rockeye from North Shields Meadowell Estate and Cramlington DJ Dan Herbison (DJ Herby) all grew up in similar surroundings to the young people they are now helping. Each of them has had their fair share of tragedy, tough upbringing and bad fortune in their lives including getting into trouble with the law in their formative years.
The three are experts in a form of music called Makina which had its origins in Spain with a bouncing tempo ranging from 150 to 18 beats per minute. Lyrics are based on personal life experiences and the music genre has been popular in the North East for more than 30 years.
MC Rockeye said: “The kids we are working with now are similar to what we were when we were young. We were always in trouble and if someone had been about to harness our energy through music perhaps our lives would’ve been different. Makina and music saved us, and we hope to pass on our skills to these young people and make a difference. Get them engaged and it keeps them out of trouble.”
MC Bertie agreed: “We know each other through music and our lives have all changed for the better.
It’s great to be able to make a difference to struggling kids by raising their aspirations and self-belief. When we are working on lyrics it also helps them to express themselves, releases their creativity and helps with their spelling and grammar.”
The project aims to offer a range of workshops and run Under 18 Makina nights for the teenagers - with a strict no alcohol or smoking policy.
“These lads are excellent role models; they may have a history, but they can engage and relate to our young people today. They are now volunteering their time helping other people deal with their personal issues through the music they create and giving them something to be proud of from their own area,” said Paul.
Photo L to R Paul Kirkpatrick (Off the Grid), MC Rockeye, DJ Herby, MC Bertie and Alison Adamson (Off the Grid) (The Bigger Picture Agency)
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