A GROUP of Mayfield teens are releasing a rap song today that addresses issues such as suicide, anxiety and bullying among young people.
The group is called Mayfield Youth and their song, Reach Out, is available on social media sites such as Youtube. They hope young people in Cork will hear their message and know they are not alone.
It was being launched at Mayfield Library at 2.30pm today with rugby star Simon Zebo as guest.
Youth worker Deirdre Dennigan said the group came up with the idea for the rap after becoming concerned with what they were seeing around them.
“Mayfield is a superb community,” said Deirdre, who has been a youth worker there since 2001. “People come together all the time and there are always great collaborations.
“This group were really affected by the level of bullying, teenage depression and anxiety they were seeing, as well as the amount of suicides in the city. They just felt it was too much.
“They are all very musical so we spent a couple of weeks trying to figure out what we could do and they decided they would like to write a rap. We consulted Gary McCarthy who is with GMC Beats workshops to help.”
The song features the talents of three people — 20-year-old rapper Shane Keane, singer Trisha Sexton, and 17-year-old Paul Woods.
“Trisha was 13 at the time and is now 14, she is the main vocalist in the group,” said Deirdre.
“The three of them wrote the rap and recorded it with Gary over a number of weeks. Gary is brilliant. He brings out the best in them and has great expertise.
“Initially, the guys wanted to lash it up on social media straight away but I just felt the lyrics were so powerful and I said ‘Look, it’s too good. It will be up online and gone again’. They agreed we should do more so in January we made the video, which is great.
“We want to spread the word that if you are struggling with any issues, to go and talk to someone.
“A lot of the kids, and the group themselves, say that when things get really hard they might pull away from friends and family.
“So they are learning as they go that when they are struggling is when they need to tell someone, ‘OK, I need some extra help here’.
“They each wrote their individual piece in the rap and they are all equally powerful.”
Bullying is a big theme in the song, as well as young people who are feeling suicidal or who have depression and anxiety.
The part written and performed by Shane is based on personal experience: ‘Getting hurtful messages every night but I had my friends so I was alright. Resilient mind, you can’t break it. But what about the ones who just can’t take it?’
Shane said: “I honestly think there should be more projects like this in Cork, to keep young people occupied and get them off the streets. Growing up in Cork, the streets can be a bad place for young people. These rap projects helped me a lot, they should be funded more. It would make such a big difference to the communities and help the youth so much.
“This songs speaks for all the youth of Cork. I lost friends to suicide and knew friends who got bullied and fell into depression and were too scared to tell people about how they where feeling.
“I thought creating this song would help people of all ages understand that we all go through hard times in life but it’s always OK to talk, speak out and get help. If we help one person with this song I will be delighted.”
The group have also organised a postcard campaign to coincide with the launch today. The song aims to raise awareness of the work by Foróige for youth in communities. Deirdre explained: “We made beautiful postcards with some of the lyrics and information on the back about where to get help and we will be circulating them.
“We want to promote all of the services Foróige offer but also to draw attention to reachout.com which is a great service, especially if you want to get help anonymously.”
Deirdre added: “There are so many teens dealing with anxiety, the whole social media scene is good but it needs to be managed.
“I have seen an increase in anxiety in youth in recent years. To address it myself I have done a lot of training in mindfulness. I bring mindfulness in with the kids a lot. It is all about managing your head and your thoughts.”
“Although suicide is dealt with in the rap, what we want to talk about is life. We want to point to where the help is and we want to bring awareness. We want to talk about how to look after yourself and stay connected. The message is to speak to people if you are struggling.”
To help spread the message, the group also designed a Peer Education Workshop and ran it in St Patrick’s College, where they shared the rap and video.
“Trisha and another girl, Megan Kelleher, made some very cool art pieces with Tom in Mayfield Arts centre highlighting some of the key messages from the rap,” said Deirdre. “Then they discussed the issues with their classmates.
“We entered the rap, the video and the Peer Education piece into Foróige’s National Citizenship Awards and on April 29 we attended the awards in the City West Hotel in Dublin and won the ‘Ones To Watch’ award. Needless to say we were all thrilled.”
Deirdre urges people to go online to watch the video today.
“The beauty of this is that the kids wrote it. They wrote about their own experiences and what they are seeing. They are trying to tell young people, ‘Don’t keep it all bottled up, reach out and get the help, things will get better.’
“And while it is written by teens for teens there are major messages there for parents, grandparents and for everyone. You do really have to reach out and talk.”
“There is a massive rap scene in Cork, it is unreal, and we are really hoping the Cork radio stations will play Reach Out. We want to keep spreading our message.”
The services in the Peer Education Workshops are as follows: