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Spray Away Meth is an art campaign aimed at keeping teens off drugs. The three-island tour kicks off this week Wednesday and will travel to Maui, Hawaii Island and Oahu next month.

Local artist and youth mentor, East3, is shaking things up in the community by reaching out to kids who want to take a stand against crystal methamphetamine. “There is a serious problem on all islands and I am hoping that the art can bridge the message they have which is ‘Not even once,’” East3 said.

The Hawaii Meth Project reports Hawaii has the nation’s highest rate of meth use in the workplace and 20-percent of local teens say they know someone who is using the drug and the kids also say they have access to it.

“We are always looking for new ways to reach the kids today,” Hawaii Meth Project executive director David Earles said. “Kids are moving faster than us adults can keep up with, and so we talked with our teen advisory council and we asked how do we get the message out to your peers. One of the things they told us was through art.”

The program, which involves painting murals with students, began last March with the help of three students on Kauai who, as part of their senior project, painted a mural at Kauai High School. East3 held painting and anti-meth workshops for close to 40 teens.

“The kids showed up in droves and they loved learning how to do this message in a way that they could take back to their own schools to their own families to their own clubhouses,” Earles said. “Meth is the worst drug honestly out there. It’s a very disgusting drug once you get into it, and these kids can express that visually.”

The street art movement in Hawaii started in the ’80s and has now progressed into a vehicle for expression and education for the younger generation.

“Art is inspirational, art is expression,” said East3. “It’s freedom, so when you put together something that speaks to them in their language, it’s very powerful.”

The project begins Wednesday on Maui at the Lahaina Boys & Girls Club where students will paint native Hawaiian fish, followed by Kealakehe High School on Hawaii Island where the mural will feature hip hop artists, and on Oahu in Waipahu at Pas De Deux Hawaii.

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