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The Weekly Challenge, 29th June 2020 – S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys

We recommend reading the full challenge here! https://dothinkshare.com/the-weekly-challenge/the-weekly-challenge-29th-june-2020-s-m-i-le-ing-boys/

Kay Rufai is an artist who developed the Mayor of London supported S.M.I.LE-ing Boys Project. The project aims to address the mental health needs of black teenage boys that can go unacknowledged and unmet. It is a direct response to rising levels of knife crime and the media portrayal of black boys and men as perpetrators and victims. The initial stage of the project was held with 50 young, black boys in Year 9 at a school in Lambeth.
The photos show young, black boys smiling. These photos are the visual aspect of a much wider initiative – to provide tangible coping strategies to manage their mental health, and to increase agency over the factors that affect their well-being. Over an 8 month creative programme, exploring the 8 Pillars of Happiness, the boys’ sense of wellbeing and self-worth rose by 22%.
You can read more about the project, its context and its findings via the link above.
“In terms of challenging stereotypes and representations of black boys this was so powerful for me…because it’s not an image that you’re used to ever seeing, and you question why it has such an impact on you.”

This week’s challenge invites you to explore the context of this project, and reflect on its impact. Use these questions to help you. You can respond as creatively as you like, through drawing, poetry, photography or writing – all mediums that Kay used throughout the project.
What makes you smile about these images?
What could you do to make you smile more? What could you do this week to further engage with the context behind the project? How could you use this to educate yourself, someone else, celebrate black people, black artists and black joy?