From February to July 2019, Art Fusion ran Where I Stand, a photography project for youth living in the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park neighbourhood of Scarborough. The project was lead by Art Fusion, the youth leadership group at Healthy Living for Arts (HLA), and supported by Diana Nazareth, the founder of Project Kids & Cameras. Through the project, youth were mentored in PhotoVoice, a research method which combines photography, dialogue, photo exhibits, and social action to address community issues.
When asked where the idea for the program originated, the Art Fusion team tells us, “in May 2018 we received Cultural Hotspot Spark funding to begin collaborating with Diana. That first project, entitled the ‘Scarborough Youth Photo Voices Project’, was a 3-day intensive youth photography mentorship project. The training allowed us to work with high quality photographic equipment meanwhile introducing us to technical skills of photography. From there, the project eventually evolved into this current project, ‘Where I Stand’, which allowed us to have more time to harness the technical and creative skills of photography. By using the skills that we learned, we aim to promote photography and similar artistic forms as vehicles for community building, creative self-expression, and leadership building”.
The response from youth to this incredible learning opportunity has been fantastic. Art Fusion shares, “throughout the sessions, youth became actively involved in group discussions and learnings under the guidance of Diana, while juggling time for self-directed learning and discovery. This process allowed youth to learn a lot about themselves and each other through photography”.
Looking at how receiving funding helped support the project, the Art Fusion team explains, “ArtReach assisted us financially by investing in this pilot project and putting trust into our hands to ensure that we developed our own capacities. We wouldn’t have been able to reach out to as many youth in the community or develop such deep connections with our peers without making this project accessible to those in need”.
The success of the project was also supported by the community: “We have developed a solid relationship with our community partners, our peers, and with our mentor. Our adult allies believed in our project and have supported us by providing several in-kind donations such as food, equipment, and space. We have learned so much, from project management to the creative and technical skills of photography, that we feel confident using the skills that we developed to make a substantial impact in our community”.
Reflecting on where they see the project going next, the Art Fusion team notes that the project has been a launch pad for other youth initiatives, “A handful of youth have aspired to take the skills they learned in this program and brainstorm ways to make an impact with their own lives. For example, we have one youth who works for a charitable organization that works with children with special needs, and she is looking to pitch an idea of facilitating a photography workshop with the organization”.
Learn more about and stay up to date with Art Fusion on their website, here!