My Sister’s Keeper, created by Tianna Boswell, is an empowerment program that allows young girls in the Malvern community to use poetry, painting, and aesthetics as tools for healing through the arts.
The program was inspired by Tianna’s journey as a young girl navigating through society. Growing up in the Malvern, Tianna did not have a mentor or an older sister that she could help guide her own journey and her mother spent most of her time at work in order to provide for the family. Tianna experienced first hand how the lack of programing and resources within the Malvern community made it difficult for her to excel in the classroom. Tianna needed to change this narrative by creating the space that she did not have, believing that young girls in her community would benefit from it. Through planting seeds of love, art and collaboration, My Sister’s Keeper creates a sisterhood bond that encourages the youth to uplift one another. The program teaches youth that art can be used as a form self-expression and healing as it helped her when she was in elementary school. Tianna said she prayed about her vision, mapped it out, and watched it manifest.
The youth response to the program was positive and they loved the program. Tianna found that all the girls left feeling more confident than ever, and remained consistent, attending almost every session. Tianna had guest speakers come in to talk to the girls and answer burning life questions they had, which resulted in the speakers eagerly willing to come back to provide extra support without compensation.
ArtReach was the project’s first ever funder. “Without ArtReach I wouldn't even know it was possible to do this” said Tianna. Tianna found ArtReach’s Post- It newsletter extremely useful as it helped identify other opportunities. She also attended Evaluation 101 facilitated by Fonna Scott which opened more knowledge on how to create effective evaluations for the project. ArtReach’s support additionally gave Tianna the confidence to apply to other grants such as, Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Ontario Black Youth Action grant.
“ArtReach made it possible for me to have impact on the lives of others...it was really deep, ” said Tianna. Tianna hopes to create a space that offers several art’s based programs throughout the week and allows other community groups to join. She also hopes for My Sisters Keeper to become a long term program with honorariums included.
Tianna found the process to be very encouraging! She now believes that she is living her true purpose. She is grateful to be a Big Sister her community can lean on.
Author: Jessica Bentu