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S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys project

In Support of Black History Month we have been working with the internationally acclaimed artist- Kay Rufai and are very proud to be showcasing the S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys Project.

The Project was created as a direct response to the rise in Serious Youth Violence (Gun and Knife crime) which sparked a series of reactionary approaches from the government regarding tougher criminalisation of youth, more stop and searches and greater police presence in global majority communities.

These approaches inspired Kay to explore the often neglected public health approach, which required investigating the mental health provisions or lack thereof, for the demographic in question - black youth.This exploration later birthed the Wellcome Trust & Arts Council funded S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys Project. The project involved research trips to Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, Norway) and Bhutan (for its measure of Gross National Happiness instead of GDP), to explore the factors that contribute towards enabling these countries to rank amongst the top 10 happiest countries in the world consistently for the past decade.

This ongoing ethnographic research uncovered eight main factors responsible for the high happiness ranking average of the citizens in these Scandinavian countries. These factors were then used to design a series of photography, poetry and discussion based art workshops with 13 year old Black Boys delivered by the Artist - Kay Rufai.

The outcomes of these series of 8 week long workshops with over 300 Black boys from ten boroughs in London were curated into a multimedia exhibition at City Hall (Mayor Of London's office), Battersea Arts Centre, Theatre Peckham, Brixton Village in the Guardian & now The Mall Walthamstow consisting of photography, creative writing, films, installations and a poetry album -' Boy And A Bike (Miseducation Of Black Youth)', which was written by Kay as a self therapeutic response to the honest discussions which were held in the classrooms and also feature as interludes on the album.

We have these lovely photo portraits throughout the centre and in The Loft on level 3, if would like to find out more about this project please visit

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