Our Voice: Me+You=4Eva – Reaching 3,000 !!!
As Me+You=4Eva reaches it’s milestone of 3,000 participates, company director Krystal Keeley takes this opportunity to look back and reflect on the journey Unique Voice has been on, from inspirations to outcomes.
Me+You=4Eva – Reaching 3,000
When people ask Unique Voice where “Me+You=4eva” came from, it’s hard to comprehend or put a direct link from the initial idea to the finished creation. The truth is the only clear route that it birthed from was inspiration. As domestic violence figures are reaching a shocking high and the 1 in 4 figures dominated the statistics of troubled relationships, something had to be done to prevent the future generation joining or even worse adding to these dangerous statistics. To do that, we had to go back to where it all begins.
When I was young, my mum insisted I say my “please and thank you’s”, told me not be rude, be kind and always help others. These key attributes I like to believe embedded somewhat in my personality and from my parental guidance came my own creation of expectations and behaviour. As I matured this had a profound effect on my confidence and what I looked for in a friend or partner. Events, boyfriends and the effects of teenage life challenged my morals throughout my teenage years and it wasn’t easy but I always had a guide to go off even if I didn’t always make the best choices. I know I’m lucky to have had these examples and guidance and that
we now live in a society where for various reasons young people may not have the same structure and examples. This lack of awareness can lead to a number of consequences, troubled relationships, abusive partners, low self esteem, teenage pregnancy and so on.
In the early days of pitching “Me+You = 4eva”, someone said to me, “The children don’t need to learn about relationships at such an early age, especially not at primary” this sentence provided me with 2 key thoughts – a frustration and indeed a reply. One replied with the following theory:
- We teach young people about sex, contraception and STI’s at the earliest possible age because we hope this early exposure and awareness will lead them to making informed, clear decisions through adolescence. If we intervene and start to educate when the young people are already participating in sexual activity, then the pressures, environment and trend of sex may overrule the allowance of embedded morals to take precautions. The exact same reason must be carried over to learning about what we expect from a relationship and more importantly what not to.
- We must, must, must provide young people with a visual portrayal of what a troubled relationship looks like and show elements of this in detail so that the young people will be prepared to make informed choices and be shown the support networks available to help them with this.
I told this story to Brian Hall, an extended services manager at Bristol City Council andwas overjoyed to hear that his aims and objectives for young people not only met ours but they joined hands. From there we recruited our fantastic actors and workshop leaders and performed “Me+You = 4eva”, alongside interactive workshops to all schools in the south area of Bristol. Each visit, each workshop, each discussion, however they differed in environment, day or school, they all held the same things in common. They were all actively contributing to shaping and supporting young people in their decisions on relationships. “Me+You = 4eva”is and continues to be a great success. It may be because of our great team of actors, it may be because it’s a different way of engaging young people in such an important issue. This we can measure and conclude as part of the projects success.
However, we think the real results and determined impact can be linked to allowing the young people that participated in “Me+You = 4eva” form their own opinion and challenge how they should treat or be treated in a relationship. If “Me+You = 4eva”provides young people with the safe platform to explore these options than this is all we can ask for and no review or criticisms can hinder or take away the fact that 3,000 young people will remember “Me+You = 4eva”and use it as a guide for their future relationships.
The initial inspiration for the piece fuels us to continue the work we do and we hope this inspires the young people we work with to challenge what is not acceptable, to walk away, to seek help and remember exactly what the characters in the play did.
This inspiration has taken us a long way over the last 12 months and we celebrate this milestone of reaching and visiting 3,000 children, however, the hard work has just began…. we look forward to visiting the next 3,000 and the next…