OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — The term “1UP” comes from the Mario Bros.® video games and refers to a player extending their character’s life for continued play. It is also used as reference to having or giving an advantage in accomplishing a task or endeavor.
This is the theme of a graffiti mural painted by students from the Oklahoma Youth Academy Charter School (OYACS)—operated by the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA)—in collaboration with Angel Little, Oklahoma City Hip Hop Educator and Enthusiast; Kris Kanaly, founder of the Oklahoma Mural Syndicate and Plaza Walls; and, Tony Tee, Oklahoma City Hip Hop Educator and Artist. The project was made possible by an education grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council.
“The arts are positive and constructive in ways that resonate with young people,” stated Jennifer Allen-Barron, Arts Education Director for the Oklahoma Arts Council. “Credit the Office of Juvenile Affairs and its leadership for seeing the potential of the Graffiti Culture program and putting it in to action. We were privileged to support the program, and we are encouraged to learn of its impact.”
The vibrant colors and inspiring message grace the walls of OJA’s state office—a visual representation of an element of Hip Hop: a culture built on peace, love, unity and celebration. Six students were selected to help paint the mural based on sketches submitted for an OYACS art competition. The students participated in two classes with Little where they learned the basics of graffiti, hip hop, and positive self-expression and creativity.
Little said the project “represents youth that have come together, despite their backgrounds or situations, to create an image that carries an idea: we can give our future and the future of those around us an opportunity to learn from us, to do and be more than us and to go beyond our imaginations. This is us—a 1UP for the future.”
Partnerships such as this are an example of the culture being nurtured by OJA that emphasizes treatment and support for kids working hard to create a new life.