The Toon Experience is a hard-hitting interactive drama that is delivered by young people, giving other young people information and advice when dealing with issues that commonly affect their lives, such as: knife crime, sectarianism, poverty and inequality, drugs and alcohol, and bullying.
Young volunteers involved in The Toon have been working away behind the scenes writing their scripts, designing sets and much more and volunteering collectively over 1000 hours a week of time.
The Toon is led by the Youth Enquiry Service and is a straight-talking way of providing information to young people aged 14-25 about current issues that might be affecting them, their peer group, or are likely to affect them in the future. The issues portrayed through the drama production are chosen by the young people involved in The Toon.
The young performers and the stage crew, who can be seen throughout the weekend at Youth Beatz 2023, completed their 2-week intensive camp called “Toon Camp” that ran during the school Easter Holidays. Young people were involved in planning the immersive experience and developing the new show and set designs so that new and relevant issues can be explored at this year’s event. The camp saw young people taking part in various workshops in order to improve their knowledge and understanding about the complex issues that can affect young people. The course was also packed full of performance training, script writing, vocal coaching, costume design, set production, as well as vital learning through issue-based workshops on the topics that the experience will look to explore with those who venture through The Toon on the event days.
Through a dedicated Makers Group, the young people turned their vision into a reality with set designs. The group who took part in Toon Camp also successfully completed their Bronze Youth Achievement Award. This is an award that credits the volunteers for the hard work that they have put into Toon and is rated Level 4 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).
Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee, Councillor Ian Blake said: “It is incredibly important to Dumfries and Galloway Council to recognise and address the issues that our young people are facing on a daily basis. The Toon is a fantastic and innovative way of upskilling young people on a true peer to peer basis. The issues covered through the production are hard hitting, but the experience and messages taken away are thought provoking and hopeful, with helpful inputs from partner organisations who we are continually thankful for.”
The Toon will run tours at Youth Beatz 2023, giving young people the chance to look round the fictional setting and meet different characters who are facing different situations. Young people will then go into a workshop with dedicated Youth Workers where they will have the chance to further explore some of the issues faced within The Toon.
The Toon is an integral part of Youth Beatz 2023 which takes place on Saturday 1 st and Sunday 2 nd July, once again at Park Farm, Dumfries. The interactive youth information has run for a number of years and has been a central hub for getting young people involved in what has been described as a “brilliant way of educating and making you think outside the box”.
Vice-Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee Councillor Jackie McCamon said: “The Toon is a fantastic way of providing information to young people through a peer education approach, with the topics being informed by the young people involved in the group. I would like to thank all of the young volunteers who are involved in The Toon production for all of their commitment and hard work.”
The Toon is brought to you by Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Youth Work Service, working in partnership with Sexual Health D&G, Domestic Abuse Partnership, LGBT Youth, Rape Crisis, Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Fast Forward, Scottish Gambling Education Hub and Police Scotland.
Funding has this year been secured through Dumfries and Galloway Council, Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, Fast Forward, The Scottish Gambling Education Hub, Cashback for Communities, and YoungStart.