Joker In Me exhibition helps Blackpool youngsters display their feelings

An exhibition put in place 18 months ago finally got to open to the public – bringing with it a powerful message about how Blackpool’s youngsters cope with adversity.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Friday, 17th September 2021, 6:58 pm
Updated Friday, 17th September 2021, 7:02 pm

The Joker In Me display of work by members of Blackpool Boys and Girls Club was installed and ready to launch at the Stanley Park Visitor Centre in March 2020.

But then the country went into lockdown leaving the exhibition unseen until the visitor centre reopened earlier this month.

On Friday (September 17) councillors Gillian Campbell and Kath Benson formally cut a ribbon to launch the event which is open over the weekend.

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Coun Campbell and Coun Benson (centre) with members of the Blackpool Boys and Girls Club

Dave Blacker, a youth worker at the Boys and Girls Club, said: “The exhibition was put in place but curtailed within days due to national lockdown.

“But there are more than 200 pieces of work and we wanted to make sure people had chance to see it.”

Images of The Joker and Batman were used to prompt youngsters to look at where they were in their lives and write down how the world looked to them.

This then promoted discussions about how to overcome adversity and make the right decisions to shape better futures.

Youth worker Jed Sullivan said: “These are the tools we use to get kids chatting, perhaps while they are colouring something in, and it flows.

“The key is about doing it by stealth.”

Coun Campbell, cabinet member for inclusion, youth and transience on Blackpool Council, said the exhibition struck a powerful note.

She said: “Speaking as a parent it is incredibly difficult to get kids to talk about how they feel.

“The option of them being able to put it down on paper without being judged is very powerful, and reading the things they have said is very striking to me.

“The Boys and Girls Club is doing a fantastic job in reaching the young people we need to reach out to most.”

The club’s venues in Mereside and Victory Road were both closed during lockdown with Mereside operating as a food hub giving out 1,500 hampers.

Work with young people continued virtually with the latest project looking at sexual harrassment of young people by their peers.

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