With a significant number of valley residents aged 18 and younger, Leigh Barrett has devised a way to allow the youth to take ownership of their neighbourhoods by leading a collaborative project to be facilitated by Revamp the Valley. Revamp the Valley is non-profit organisation (NPO) that has taken on several community improvement projects in the Fish Hoek valley, which now includes the Valley Schools art project.Barrett, executive director of the NPO, is looking to initiate the painting of a mural at Central Circle, on the walls behind the Civic Centre and near the Disaster Management Volunteer Facility. The aims for the project are three-fold: to encourage the schools in the valley to come together and collaborate on the mural, to rejuvenate the area by making it vibrant and colourful, and to allow students to build on their interests and become leaders by allowing them to pilot meaningful projects.“The students who lead the project don’t need to be artists – they can be business students,” she starts. “This is an opportunity for schools to identify students who are interested in learning about project management or fundraising or arts, and to collaborate with students from other schools to make it work. There are different aspects which would open the project up to any students with any interests, and not only those who want to be artists.”Creating a steering committee is the first step in getting the project off the ground and this requires schools to come on board and encourage their learners to apply themselves on a project that will make a tangible difference in the community. The project also calls on local mural artists to join in and guide the students in the design of the artwork.She says engaging youth in responsible community improvements that they can manage not only builds a positive relationship between them and government but also gives youth a sense of ownership in their community. “Inter-school collaboration can bring people from different suburbs together in a way in which young people feel valued by their community, and be able to express their ideas and needs,” she adds.Learners and artists interested in forming part of the steering committee are encouraged to contact Barrett to get started on the mural. “Instead of prescribing to kids, we need to engage them in positive community development – and that starts with having fun,” she concludes. V Visit Revamp the Valley at www.revamp-the-valley.org to find out more and take part.