Where it takes you...

Smash Street
 is a residential art program that serves as a 24/7 safe house protection for male adolescents with HIV/AIDS, who are also at risk for psychological, neurological, and developmental disabilities due to sexual abuse, gang violence, addiction, human trafficking, and cyclical prostitution. The boys are reached and educated through painting, music, photography, video, film, dance, poetry, mentoring, and intensive counseling.

Show Me Your Life is an international online art program, peer-mentored by residents of Smash Street. Students are provided with a camera and work through Show Me Your Life to acquire art and video skills. In doing so, they are also examining the dynamics of their lives and how art becomes a sharing, too. A bearing witness. At-risk does not mean we will remain invisible. We were here.

Show Me Your Life began at 
Cinematheque Films; a residential safe house & intensive art program designed by survivors for abused adolescent boys living with HIV and AIDS-defining infections & diseases. Today, Show Me Your Life students are mentored by Smash Street, modeled after Cinematheque. 

Tim Barrus (Founder, Cinematheque Films; Creative Director, Show Me Your Life, Smash Street Boys, Real Stories Gallery):

The idea of a safe house is fundamentally based on the dynamics of protection from what brought them here. Witnesses of a time and of a place. We are a SAFE environment where boys at risk learn to empower themselves through the self-actualization and educational modalities of art.

When you take an HIV boy out of an abusive situation that is NOT the end of it. That is only the beginning. The first couple of months, you will need to rock and roll. What does rock and roll mean. It means expect the unexpected. There has been NO research done that will provide you with what is real guidance. Especially if you are dealing with 1.) drug withdrawal (addiction) 2.) SIBs: Self Injurious Behaviors, 3.) Nightmares (the nightmares the kid normally has are now exaggerated by ARVs like Sustiva), 4.) and just plain remembering.

What I like about Show Me Your Life is that the kid can make a video, but it’s safe; the life, the violence, the rapes, the incarcerations do not pull him into the computer. The video is a SAFE place in which he can articulate the rage at what has happened to him. What really pisses me off about so many professionals is that they look at me and say they can’t participate because the kid could harm the camera or he might steal it. GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK! The camera is a VOICE for a kid who is desperately attempting to construct one.

Adolescents at-risk. At-risk means they're confronting serious, life-threatening, deeply personal, intimate issues with human sex trafficking, suicide, addiction, sexual abuse, disability from physical abuse, homelessness, school failure, cutting, running away, life on the street, coming out, severe bullying, survival sex, jail, sex work, and HIV/AIDS. They do not necessarily speak English.

People have a lot of questions about what at-risk means. The bottom line is that these are kids who walk a fine line between life and death. Some have been totally traumatized by human sex trafficking, and while they might express themselves here, some of them are mute. Thusly, do not assume that a kid communicates anything whatsoever outside what art he creates; most of it will be art as he sees it. It might not be art to you. But it will be art to him. Some of the adolescents in Smash Street are designated (CH) by state's Special Education Programs as Communicatively Handicapped.

Confidentiality: Images of the kids themselves can be obfuscated or photoshopped on purpose. Some kids are more focused on confidentiality than others. We employ various Internet channels/ websites/ blogsites to speak to and among ourselves. This means many of the posts will simply be for those of us in Smash Street. You will also find stuff posted by the kids in Show Me Your Life (an International Art Program based in eighteen different countries). Some content is attributed. Some content is anonymous if the kid wants to opt out of identifying himself. It's up to the kid who made it. Smash Street and Show Me Your Life are both safe places where adolescents at-risk can make art, and show it. Both Smash Street and Show Me Your Life offer kids-at-risk materials and peer-mentoring. 

Warning: Anything you attempt to communicate to a kid at Smash Street can be posted on our websites and blogs, and a lot of people will read everything you've said. Haters are not welcomed. Pedophiles who make overtures are reported. At no time will a kid give you his address. Watch what you say and how you say it. People who bully do get posted but as examples of what hate speech is.

Warning: Some posts could be disturbing. Sometimes a kid is posting for himself or one other particular kid. At Smash Street we call that an internal dialogue.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows art-teaching entities fair use of digital content in classroom and teaching-research applications. Our various Internet sites are always under construction (24/7), many being designed by the kids who contribute to them.

CONTACT: Kids can refer themselves to the program, and many are referred by outside NGOs. You can submit questions to us via Dr Rachel Chapple at or Tim Barrus at                
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