Youth Get Connected With Art
The Neighbourhood Arts Engagement Program is developed by Community Arts & Heritage Education Project (CAHEP). It offers a chance for children and youth in priority neighbourhoods within Thunder Bay to take part in free-of-cost arts programming. These projects are designed to build relationships, encourage collaboration, and foster pride and respect. CAHEP works together with participants to develop the projects, ensuring that they are leading their own creative process and investing in the program.
This program is the first experience many of these children and youth have with the arts. They face a number of barriers in their lives (transportation, socio-economic), that limit their access to enriching creative experiences. By travelling directly to the neighbourhoods to deliver arts programming, the Neighbourhood Arts Engagement Program ensures that these participants create art in a close, familiar, and inclusive space. This is done through partnerships with neighbourhood organizations, such as Evergreen a United Neighbourhood (Simpson Ogden) and Community Action Group (of Blucher, Picton, Windsor).
The range of projects offered have included traditional beadwork, painting, mask-creation, breakdancing and hip hop music, storytelling, do-it-yourself clothing creation, circus arts, and drumming.
In one neighbourhood, CAHEP offered a digital photography workshop. Participants learned how to express themselves using cameras, and transform their photos into art using computer programs. One participating youth voiced that it was first time he had taken photos with a digital camera with a local artist. By the end of the day, he had taken great pride in what he had learned and was teaching his peers about photography. Week after week, this youth attended the program, investing in the projects that were offered, bringing family along to participate, and sharing his stories. With a camera in his hands, he acted as a lead photographer, documenting the program as it took place. To date, he continues to take on an active leadership role within his community. He volunteers at local events, and uses photography to voice his unique perspective on the world. Many of the children and youth who participate in this program have similar stories. Through engaging in the arts, they connect with each other, strengthen community, celebrate culture, and become proud leaders in their own neighbourhoods.