Torres Strait Islander children drop beats

Children from Boigu, Saibai, Badu, Mabuiag, St Pauls, Warraber, Poruma, Masig, Mer, and Erub Islands in the Torres Strait have teamed up with rap music artist Ryan Samuels, also known as Trooth, to create a hip-hop video promoting healthy skin to their community.

The song, entitled Healthy Skin, Healthy Mepla, was developed after a community run health workshop identified the need for children to learn more about the importance of good skin health hygiene and healthy living.

Healthy Mepla from TCHHS Communications on Vimeo.

With a passion for improving the health of her community, Ms Pelista Pilot, the first Indigenous research officer employed by Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service, coordinated the skin health promotional event in July this year. The workshop was delivered in local language to over 50 children from across the Torres Straits and aimed to improve their knowledge and understanding of healthy skin and skin disease.

“I think it is really important that the community knows about skin health, and how to prevent themselves from getting skin infections,” said Ms Pilot.

Knowing she needed to keep the momentum going, Ms Pilot contacted Ms Ella Kris at the Torres Strait Island Regional Council to talk about producing a music video.

Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Manager of Health and Wellbeing, Ms Ella Kris, said teaching children about health needs not only improves their health long term, but it also has a positive impact on their health literacy skills.

“What an awesome experience it was to work with Allison, Pelista and Ryan and over 60 kids in creating a message that we can sing, or should I say, rap about. That is community taking ownership of what community wants and needs in the community,” said Ms Kris.

Ryan ‘Trooth’ Samuels is a rapper and managing director at Reach1 Teach1, an organisation that uses music and Hip Hop to provide young people with the tools to generate original and positive ideas and promote healthy living.

On working with the kids on Thursday Island, Trooth said, “To see so many children smiling about something that is healthy gives me hope for the future generations to come. The youth from TI are truly free, not only in body, but in mind and spirit as well.”

The music video has been hugely successful and is now used in health centres across the Torres Straits to further promote healthy skin.

Dr Allison Hempenstall said the music video is important because skin infections such as school sores and scabies are extremely prevalent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in children. These infections can contribute to more severe diseases such as rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease with lifelong sequalae.

‘It’s so important that the community understands the significance of these infections and how best to prevent them!” said Dr Hempenstall.

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