Youth Outreach: Connecting to Community Through Art – for elementary and high school students with (dis)abilities
January 10, 2022 @ 9:00 am - January 1, 2023 @ 3:00 pm
This program provides visual arts programming to youth with intellectual and/or developmental (dis)abilities in elementary and secondary school. Students meet twice a month (once a month at Centre Wellington District High School and once a month at Elora Public School. The sessions offer art instruction, provided by an ECFTA Arts Educator, assisted by classroom teachers. The program, including instruction and art supplies are free to students. Project themes are centred around community building, emphasizing collaboration and success through personal artistic expression. The goal is connecting students to the community in meaningful and creative ways.
Why is this program important?
Students with (dis)abilities (termed “M.I.D” by the school board) experience intellectual and/or developmental delays and face added challenges to feeling supported within the school system and the broader community, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. They also have limited access to arts-based resources within the school due to the continued erosion of arts funding. This program strives to engage them in focusing on emotional and social well-being through art projects that connect them with community initiatives, helping them experience community life beyond school. Our goal is that they feel more connected and included in the community.
The 2019 Vital Signs Report demonstrates the need for this program as follows:
- Only 41% of students feel a sense of belonging to their community through school;
- Accessibility to the arts continues to be a barrier for many;
- Youth mental health is a particular vulnerability; and
- Connection to the community is listed as a preventative factor against suicide.
This project arose as a direct request from teachers of M.I.D (mild intellectual disability) and Life Skills students and aligns with our goal of supporting community needs through the arts.
As additional funding and donations are secured for our Youth Outreach programs, additional sessions will be added. In the meantime, we are grateful for the support of the Centre Wellington Community Foundation, The Good Foundation and The Harry Foster Foundation who have enabled this program to run for the Fall/Winter 2022! We couldn’t run this program without their support!
In January 2021, we had to run this program virtually, and we were able to offer this online instruction thanks in part to the support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation Community Building Fund. This funding has been instrumental in supporting the Art Centre’s emergence from the pandemic, deepen the curation of exhibitions, and supporting virtual outreach programs for students with (dis)Abilities.
For more information about this program please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To help support this program by donating today please click here.