The artistic students in the Youth Express Links to Learning program will soon have some of their artwork on display in The Levee.
A community partnership between new Indigenous restaurant COQUUN and Youth Express’ Indigenous Advancement Strategy is already making waves.
Links to Learning exists to assist Year 9 and 10 children from six local schools in reengaging with education.
The latest project began when COQUUN owner Daniel O’Leary was looking to display some artwork at his restaurant and grow produce.
It wasn’t long before the students were painting the story of the Maitland area and Hunter River on five pot plants which will soon be available for community viewing outside the restaurant.
Program coordinator Genus Passi said the pupils had been working on the painting project since week one of this term.
“We worked with three groups over three different days; it’s a good range of young people with different backgrounds and different stories, so it all blends well,” he said.
Mr Passi said it was clear the painting was calming for the young people who participated.
He said the pots, being three different colours told a story in itself.
“They are red, yellow and black – the yellow represents women, the red represents men, and the black represents young people,” he said.
“The circles represent a meeting place in community and somewhere people come together.”
Mr O’Leary said he connected with Youth Express from day one.
“I think the work they do is really important and I felt there was lots of opportunity for us to do some really positive things on a community level,” he said.
“We always had the dream of establishing a little native herb and garden bed that could feed the restaurant very directly. I went over and saw they were already doing similar work out the back of their space, so it was a very natural progression.
“It’s really nice to be in Maitland and to have discovered really awesome organisations doing awesome things and to feel a part of that.”