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Students reclaim their school underpasses

Students at Priory Community School and several primary schools in Weston-super-Mare have worked together to revamp two damp, dark and intimidating underpasses.

8th April 2010

The underpasses, which link Priory Community School in Worle and the rest of its community, were long complained about due to their vandalised state.  Students were tired of avoiding using them and of being blamed for their degeneration so they decided to take matters into their own hands.

As part of Find Your Talent North Somerset, a group of 16 year nine students decided to make the underpasses the talk of the town.  Together they came up with the Priory School Community Underpass Project to revamp both underpasses and completed the first one last year.  Last week they began work on the second underpass in conjunction with local graffiti artist Tom Hine and several other schools.

Youngsters were invited from Castle Batch Community School, Beckett School and St Mark’s VA Primary as part of a transition project, with pupils spending either one or two days helping out.  They were given design sessions, took part in discussions around graffiti art and then experimented with their own designs and ideas to enhance the underpass.

The students felt that it was important that the underpass became a feature of the community and decided therefore to base their final design on the theme of the Worle community.  After three days, their final designs were created on the underpass.  This newly improved underpass has proved to be a big success, with the school receiving a great deal of positive feedback from members of the public.

Principal Neville Coles said: "One subway was revamped last year and the second was completed last week.  Tom was here until 6pm at night working to get it finished and I think it looks brilliant.  They now both look fantastic and we have had a lot of positive comments from the local community about them.

"Why should students have to walk through dark underpasses?  They can now walk through lively and engaging underpasses,which is what we wanted."

The project has inspired young people to take a responsible role in the improvement and enhancement of their local area and has also helped to portray young people in the local area in a more positive light with regards to the opinion of graffiti and previous vandalism of the underpass.

In addition, the project has also meant that the youngsters have started to take ownership and responsibility over the appearance and the maintenance of their community as they are responsible for the upkeep of the art.

They will pass on their skills to their peers so that the underpass can be kept looking its best.