The arts can be a powerful medium for social change, and the #Be The Change project is proof of this. Youths involved in the project were tasked with creating a series of spoken word and dance public service announcement (PSA) films that addresses social issues that impact young people in Hong Kong.
The initiative was launched by Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation (HKYAF), in partnership with creative writing organisation, Elephant Community Press.
One of the issues addressed was food waste in Hong Kong. Before they began creating their PSA dance film to raise awareness of the problem, the young participants first got a better idea of the current situation by interviewing members of local charity Foodlink.
Robin Hwang, Executive Director of Foodlink, pointed out alarming facts about the city’s food waste crisis. “A total of 3,382 tonnes of food waste are disposed of in landfills each day in Hong Kong. This is equivalent to the weight of 7.3 fully loaded Boeing 747s. Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of poor households are in a state of food insecurity,” she said.
“There are many sides of Hong Kong we don’t see. It’s easy to get caught up in academics and everyday busy life. People don’t look around at wider society and think, what does society look like, and how can I help,” added Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation Head of Performing Arts, Anca Chung. “#Be The Change highlights social issues, which gives youths a better sense of what Hong Kong is.”
Christina Lee, a student who is one of the founders of Donut Waste, a student-led organisation that tackles the city’s food wastage issue, further emphasised how serious the situation is and highlighted the need to find a solution to the problem.
Participants also got to meet and talk to those who depend on the services of charities like Foodlink for food. All participants agreed that this was a truly inspiring experience, and incorporated what those people had to say into their spoken word poems for their video.
I was one of the passionate young writers who helped create spoken word soundtracks for the dance PSA. We collaborated with Becky Proudfoot, a professional writer from Elephant Community Press, and had some guidance from university students, as well.
During the writing session, we meticulously discussed the word form of their script. Factors like rhymes and half rhymes, imagery and subtle connotations were considered to ensure the words had the most impact.
Drafting the final poem was only half of the process. Young spoken word artists experimented with different ways each word could be pronounced. Should we add the extra long drag of a vowel, is it airy or punchy?
The final product was a three-minute recording bursting with passionate voices and thoughtful writing techniques. It will be on HKYAF's website at the end of this month.
The HKYAF #Be The Change project is a strong affirmation that youths are taking a stand, and making a difference. There’s no denying the potential and power of today’s youth.