We are big fans of Ted the Graffiti Buster here at FOCUS, and some of you may remember a story we did on him a year or so ago. Well, he is still at it, cleaning graffiti off buildings, cars, parks and anywhere it is found.
He is still influencing the young people of the Manning- Great Lakes to respect their schools, skate parks and community. We caught up with him over a cuppa to find out what he has been up to.
Ted has been volunteering in the Great Lakes for over 16 years, cleaning up graffiti and vandalism and working with young people who find themselves caught up in the juvenile justice system. His passion is contagious, and that passion is now showing itself in one local high school in particular.
Each year graffiti and vandalism cost our schools, local Councils and governments millions of dollars. In Newcastle alone, it has been reported that the city has spent over 3 million dollars on graffiti removal and vandalism repairs – that is a lot of money that could be much better spent on building the local infrastructure.
Ted estimates the damage bill in the Great Lakes is probably one of the lowest in the state, and I think few would argue that the dedication of Ted in educating the youth of our community, and his diligence in cleaning up as soon as graffiti is reported, has gone a long way in alleviating the issue in the area.
In fact, in 2007 the cost to the Great Lakes to keep the Graffiti Buster on the streets was just $5,000.
Now a whole new generation of Graffiti Busters are taking up the challenge of keeping the Great Lakes clean.
“These kids are going to progress and they will teach the next group, who will teach the next group, which means that we will have a whole generation who come through into the community who will not tolerate graffiti in the community.”
Program Name: The Graffiti Boys.
School: Great Lakes College, Forster Campus.
Name of Students: Mathew Dunk, Matthew Parry, Justin Hokin, Anders Jansson, Aaron Harvey, Jacob Fuller, Jake Ransley.
How did the program in the high school start?
Mr Brad Germon wanted to provide a boys program that focused on the students’ environment. We identified a need to clean up the graffiti that had been accumulating over a period of time that left the school looking less than desirable to both staff, students and the broader community.
How do you see this program benefitting the school?
The program ties directly into our college core values of: Personal Best, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness and Cooperation. It fosters greater pride in our school and the areas we sit in within the school. It reflects the community’s values. Everyone I speak to believes graffiti is a scourge on society and are very pleased the school is taking action to stamp it out. It also has the benefit of having community members such as Ted Bickford see the positive things young members of our community do.
What training did the students do?
The students have undergone extensive training with Ted Bickford, including biodegradable chemicals and their safe use.
Have you noticed a difference in the amount of graffiti in the school since the program started?
We have seen a significant reduction in our regular ‘hits’ of permanent marker graffiti. The mantra for the program is the same as Ted Bickford’s – ‘Gone within 24 hours’. Since we repainted the senior toilets and change rooms and applied anti-graffiti products, we have seen the biggest improvement. We are now able to remove virtually any type of graffiti using warm water!
What are your future hopes for this program?
We hope to complete phase 2 shortly – painting and applying anti-graffiti product to all toilets. However, our major goal is to spread the program throughout the other two campuses of Great Lakes College and then into other schools. We believe it is a culture that can be changed over time and one that must start in schools.