Home   News   Garnock Youth Forum team up with local graffiti artist Tragic O'Hara on new mental health mural

Garnock Youth Forum team up with local graffiti artist Tragic O'Hara on new mental health mural

Posted on 4 Dec 2023

North Ayrshire Youth Services has enlisted the help of graffiti local artist Tragic O'Hara to create a new and vibrant community mural in the heart of Dalry.

Situated on the wall adjacent to the car park (part of the Masonic Hall building) next to Dalry Community Gardens, the mural is a group effort between the young people of Garnock Youth Forum, North Ayrshire’s Youth Work Modern Apprentices and the Council’s Community Mental Health and Wellbeing team – a vital frontline community mental health service provided by North Ayrshire Youth Services.

Known as Bee You Ambassadors, the young people involved in the impactful Kindness Mural have been supported by Youth Work Modern Apprentices to fully realise the important participatory arts project, following recent completion of Mental Health First Aid training, undertaken earlier this year.

Bee You Ambassador and Modern Apprentice Findlay said: “Following our Mental Health First Aid training with the Council in partnership with Be-Inn Unity, we were all really passionate about building a lasting legacy for young people in North Ayrshire.

“The reason for this is because we understand that mental health and the stark rise of young people impacted by suicide are both serious issues having a real, detrimental impact on the wellbeing of local young people today.

“So, over the last few months we have been speaking directly to our peers in both classroom and youth settings to hear more about their lived-experiences. This has given us an understanding of what is working well and if they need it, we’ve shared what support is out there locally if they need it. One key theme we have identified through this work is that there’s so many young people out there who are unsure about where they can turn to outside of school.”

To combat this, as well as designing the art-piece (commissioned to Tragic O’Hara), the Bee You Ambassadors have incorporated a vital design element – the inclusion of a QR code that people can scan when visiting the mural to find out what mental health support is out there for them.

Raising awareness and ending the stigma surrounding mental health are key drivers for the Kindness Murals initiative that will be rolled out in 2024 across North Ayrshire’s other localities.

Provost Anthea Dickson unveiled the new mural at the official opening ceremony on Friday 1 December. She shared: “Although the consultation stage has been several months in the making, the painting of the mural itself only started out on Monday lasts week, and what a transformation!

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the dedicated young people who came up with the mural design and to local graffiti extraordinaire Tragic O’Hara who has worked together with them on this striking modern art mural for Dalry.

“The power of art really is amazing. It can be transformative and restorative not only physically for the area but for everyone’s unique experience as they view it in-person themselves. Congratulations to everyone involved. You should all be really proud of yourselves.”

At the unveiling, the Council’s Mental Health Champion, Councillor Jean McClung also praised the message of the mural, which reads ‘One day you will thank yourself, for never giving up’

She said: “What an important message this mural conveys. It’s amazing to think that just a few days ago this was a blank wall - look at it now. A stellar job from everyone involved.

“I would like to extend our warmest gratitude to Tragic O’Hara and all the inspiring young people involved in making this mural a reality which will now leave a lasting and postive legacy.

“Mental health matters. It is as important as physical health and particularly at this time of year, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself and look out for each other.”

The Kindness Murals initiative is a key strand of the Council’s Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Framework to ensure that children, young people and families have visibility and access to locally based health and wellbeing support services – when they need them.

Councillor McClung adds: “As ever, for young people, it is clear that pressures with friends, fallouts, school life, social media, body image, personal safety, the Cost-of-Living crisis and more can all be compounding factors that can have a serious and lasting impact on a young person’s mental health, so this type of community empowerment project is so important as our Youth Services team continues to work hard alongside our communities to raise awareness.

“I would say to anyone - no matter their age or background - who needs help, to firstly: speak to somebody you can trust – whether that is a friend or family member. Verbalising your thoughts can be a really important first step. Sometimes young constituents come to me and say that just talking can be such a relief. And I would say go to your GP for advice.

“Remember, if you or someone else is in immediate danger call 999.”

To find out more about the Mental Health And Wellbeing support in your locality, visit the mural to scan the QR code or visit the Mental Health and Wellbeing mapping resource here: https://tinyurl.com/MentalHealthNAMap

You can also follow the NAC Mental Health and Wellbeing on Twitter:https://twitter.com/HealthNac

A word from the artist...

Local graffiti artist Tragic O’hara said: “It has been my pleasure to collab with North Ayrshire Youth Services once again – this time with the amazingly talented young people over at Garnock Valley Youth Forum.

“Collectively, the young people were clear in their vision to end the stigma associated with mental health. The design brief also indicated that the mural would offer a positive and uplifting outlook for anyone experiencing it, and I think together, we really have achieved that in the first Kindness Mural for North Ayrshire.

“When I was growing up, graffiti really wasn’t a viable career option, but now thankfully it is, and can be used to create a lasting, postive legacy in both urban and even rural communities.

“I take inspiration from the street art first formed in New York in the 1970s at a time when people were using the medium to make people pay attention and ensure that their voices were heard to influence and advocate for social and cultural change.

“So, it’s brilliant to now be nurturing the next generation of young people to do the same. The mural also has mental health and wellbeing at its core, and this is so important to me personally. Isn’t it amazing when passionate people join forces together to create something special for the common good?”

Remember, North Ayrshire is  your area, you can shape it, all you need to do is have the courage to take the next step…

If you want to get involved in the Kindness Murals project or any other local youth work projects in North Ayrshire, email: youthwork@north-ayrshire.gov.uk