Globally, more and more marginalised young people are being drawn into gangs, extremist groups, and criminal enterprises. Often from deprived or conflict-affected environments, these people often view crime and extremism as a necessary – or indeed the only – way to escape poverty.
While improving their life circumstances may be challenging, it is possible to reshape their perceptions about the allure of extremism and criminality, and to build their ability to resist negative influences.
“Masterminds“, a component of the UK-funded Brighter Futures Prevent Programme, is one such initiative. Alongside work to help vulnerable young people find meaningful employment, engage in volunteer work and return to education, one component of Masterminds harnesses the arts to foster resilience to the draw of criminality. Creative tools incorporating dance, music and theatre have proved engaging and empowering, with daily exercises culminating in performances that convey a strong message against criminal involvement and emphasise the value of honesty and integrity to communities.
This approach has measurably strengthened community trust and cohesion; helped youth to take on positive leadership roles in their communities, and improved participants belief in their own self-efficacy.
Take a look at this video put together by our project partners to find out more about the Masterminds project.