Young locals give offensive subway wall a graffiti make-over

What was once a grim and unsightly underpass in Pontypridd has been given a total makeover by local children and young people.
Offensive swastikas and racist slurs have been replaced with a bright and colourful mural inspired by Pontypridd’s heritage and modern popular culture.
The new-look wall was unveiled at an Emergency Services Fund Day on Thursday, 9 August, 2018, by Julie Edwards, Project Manager for the Park’s Heritage Lottery Programme, Melanie Blaney, Youth Engagement Project Co-ordinator, Chief Superintendent Belinda Davies, South Wales Police, and local Councillor Maureen Webber.
For the past few months the underpass has been the focus of The Graffiti Project, a youth engagement initiative to increase awareness among young people about the negative impact of hate crime – through art. 
Young people aged between 9 and 18 have given up many hours to complete the project under the expert eye of professional Rhondda graffiti artist, Tom Llewellyn, founder of Qute Pixel. Some of the volunteers were referred to the project by organisations such as the youth offending service and outreach workers.
Tom Llewellyn, said: “I was asked to help out in May and to visit the site to see how we could improve the area. Everything was geared to making sure that the project could involve local young people, who worked really well right through to the end of the project. Now their efforts can be enjoyed by everybody and I hope that it is appreciated by the general public too.”
Melanie Blaney, from the Youth Offending Service’s Youth Engagement Project, said: “This is a popular route into the Ynysangharad War Memorial Park and for some time it has been targeted by vandals and daubed with offensive graffiti.
“There was a real appetite from our young volunteers to make a positive difference to this area and we came up with the idea of using graffiti in a much more positive and relevant way, which would encourage them to learn about the area they live in and at the same time appreciate the consequences that hate crime has upon victims.” 
The Graffiti Art Project encouraged the children to think about cultural relevance and to retain the park’s commemorative link to WW1. Now, the identity of Pontypridd’s park is unmistakeable – the words ‘Ynys Angharad War Memorial Park’ runs the full 30-metre-length of the underpass, each letter symbolising something that depicts Pontypridd’s past, present and future.
Chief Superintendent Belinda Davies, said: “It was an honour to be at the launch and to share the experience with these budding young artists. They took so much pride in showing me what they had done and from conversations I had with them it was clear that they had learned so much along the way. The mural is beautiful and very eye catching – today it is has been transformed into a pleasant place for everyone who uses the path, which runs through the park and into the centre of town”.
Julie Edwards, Project Manager for Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, said: “This has been a truly rewarding experience. To have young people from the town to be part of something that commemorates past generations has been so rewarding. The effort that they all put into this must be commended and I am sure that it will help the park become an even more iconic place for the town of Pontypridd.”
The project was supported by the South Wales Police Youth Trust which donated £1,500 to fund spray cans, protective clothing, and refreshments for the volunteers.

Pictured left to right: Chief Superintendent Belinda Davies, Megan Rees (volunteer), Tom Llewellyn (local artist), Kaitlin Rees, Morgan Rees, Lilly-Beth Rees (all volunteers).

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