“#HappyInSchool” is a project and exhibition that works with grade eight learners in seven secondary schools in Umlazi, KwaMashu, Verulam and Tongaat, Durban. The project engages with these learners by partnering with educational NGO OneVoiceSA. (OVSA). Central to the exhibition is the question “What will make me happy in the future?” Through a series of participatory workshops the learners and OVSA facilitators explore visualisations of a ‘happy’ future through the technique of image theatre. Groups of learners create dramatized images using improvised props and costumes to depict their dreams and aspirations. Captured by photographer Harry Lock these ‘dioramas’ provide an uplifting series of group portraits.
Happy in School was inspired by the worldwide phenomenon of Pharrell Williams’ smash hit music video ‘Happy’. The song and www.wearehappyfrom.com has become a cultural trend synonymous with changing an emotion into an action. Learners from Zwelibanzi High School in Umlazi choreographed their own version of the Happy song and the video forms part of the exhibition. #HappyInSchool joins Over 2000 communities from 153 countries who have thus far created their own version of ‘Happy’.
June is ‘Youth Month’ and the project sets out to highlight the importance of young people having a voice as an instrument for change; and a means to explore issues of human rights, gender equity, cultural diversity and specifically, nation building. In all of the workshops and activities, young people’s practice of rights and responsibilities was highlighted to support them in becoming active participants in the realisation of these rights. Young people need to be recognised as active rights holders, who have the capacity to become full and responsible citizens. Youth engagement on health and lifestyle issues, now and in the future, is vitally important for South Africa at this stage in its democracy.
“#HappyInSchool” is a project of the KZNSA’s Social Art Programme 2014/15 supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. The NLDTF relies on funds generated by the National Lottery. The Lotteries Act identifies the manner in which NLDTF funding may be allocated. The Minister of Trade & Industry, on the recommendation of the industry experts in the relevant Distributing Agency, makes the policy that guides the allocation of funds to beneficiaries. It is the aim of the NLDTF that the grants made will make a difference to the lives of all South Africans, especially those more vulnerable. The NLDTF is dedicated to improving sustainability of the beneficiary organisations it funds. The NLDTF currently has in the region of R2 billion a year to distribute to registered non-profit organisations in the fields of charities; arts, culture and national heritage; and sport and recreation that meet the qualifying criteria. The NLDTF places emphasis on areas of greatest need and greatest potential, so that all South Africans can gain from, and contribute to, South Africa’s development.
“# HappyInSchool” was developed by Independent Arts and Culture Activator Bren Brophy in partnership with the schools facilitators from OVSA and photographer Harry Lock with mentorship training by education and health specialist Dr Emma Durden.