When Heaps Decent headed out to Wilcannia in late November it was the crew’s fourth visit for 2012. For me however, it was the first time I had the privilege of working with Heaps Decent. Before leaving Broken Hill (where I was working as a high school teacher) I was given the usual warnings to be careful at night, to make sure I locked my car etc etc. But having visited Wilcannia a couple of years earlier to run a cricket clinic with the kids I was filled only with enthusiastic anticipation.
For three days we ran music, dance and hip hop recording workshops at St Therese’s Mission School which I was surprised to discover only goes from Kindergarten to Year 2. In the afternoons, we’d planned to run some workshops at the Wings Drop in Centre, however the pool had just opened for the first time this summer so we had some substantial competition. Regardless, the St Therese girls and I played Connect 4, did some drawings, played shop and googled “Justin Bieber’s phone number”. When I asked, “Why are you googling Justin Bieber’s phone number?” the response was, “To ring him [Of course]!!!!” Derrrr.
Working for Heaps Decent in Wilcannia was just as I imagined: a whole lot of fun. I got to join in clapping, dancing and rapping games run by the fantastic Miss Kristy and helped the kids write and record rap songs about current affairs issues in Wilcannia such as swimming at the pool, playing football and going to the Central School. Dameke was the first kid I helped and together we wrote a rap about the pool.
The pool is cool
The pool is freezing
When I jump in
It’s mighty pleasin’
When I run in and do a bomb
All the people say “where’s ‘e from?”
If you stand on the steps you’ll get wet
When your dog is sick take him to the vet
It wasn’t Coolio or Eminem but it was a good start.
Throughout the workshops it was heartwarming to see every single kid engaged, vibrant and enthusiastic. The rapport the crew had with the kids was immediately obvious with the girls writing little love letters to Nina Las Vegas saying “I like your dress and shoes you are very cool”, the boys taking it in turns to wear Boz’s sunnies and the Kindies jumping all over “Uncle” Levins.
On Thursday the crew headed to Menindee for some workshops with Menindee Central School and a small group of Indigenous students I’d brought across from Broken Hill High. Although this was the first time Heaps Decent had trekked out to Menindee all the kids thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to participate and immediately started asking when Heaps Decent were coming back. One of my boys from Broken Hill who I’d tried so hard to get to turn up on the day told me he had his rap stuck in his head the whole way back on the bus. He kept asking me how to make those beats and said he was so proud of what he’d produced that when the finished product arrived he would go down to his shed and PUMP it. In his words “today was MAD!”
Words: Paul Wighton
Photos: Adam Bozzetto