During the 2019 March Break, a fantastic program happened in the Black Creek Community- the Rebellevations Project, coordinated and facilitated by two very passionate individuals, Melisa Prieto and Valerie Chavez.
The Rebellevations Project offered free programming for youth ages 13-17 in arts mentorship and youth leadership development. The focus of the program was for youth to gain a deeper understanding of their personal creative process through self-reflection pieces and collaboratively create a community mural. This peer-to-peer learning and multi-level mentorship process helped to strengthen the leadership skills of participants and created a closer dialogue between children and youth within the community.
Melisa and Valerie commented on where they came up with this amazing program, “We knew there was a need for this in the community, as this used to be a kids’ camp, but we got the idea from lived experiences. We wanted to have an arts-based kids program that could be free with food to help out parents as well, and wanted to make a change in the community. We did this first without hardly any funding at all, just a little bit of money through a GoFundMe page. When we ran the camp last year, older siblings of the kids came, and we wanted to be able to accommodate for them, so when we saw that ArtReach funds youth programs, that’s how this really came to be!”
Zvi, one of the ArtReach team members, got the opportunity to visit and meet with Melisa and Valerie and the youth involved in the program during one of their sessions. He noted that the youth were having an amazing time participating in games and projects that build personal skills without making it seem like they’re in school. The young folks get to joke around and enjoy their March break, but also take away strong leadership skills and tools to help positively grow as individuals.
Zvi also got the chance to have a quick chat with one of the youth participating in the program, “I’ve been having a lot of fun here! I’ve learned a lot and it’s nice hanging out with my friends and new people. My favourite thing I’ve done so far is learning about water colouring and actually doing it was really cool”
When Melisa and Valerie spoke to the many things ArtReach was able to help make possible through this grant, they noted, “We were able to offer a completely free program, everyone was always asking how much it was but ours was free and the community really liked that. We were also able to offer great food that isn’t just take out but a catered lunch which was all from local business from the community. Most importantly we were able to purchase a variety of high-quality art supplies so they had more options and were able to create professional looking pieces. We were also able to pay ourselves as artists, which was a big help, as we used to run this program for free and it takes a lot of work. And being able to give an honorarium, transit money, journals, and little gifts to the youth was an amazing bonus!”
Melisa and Valerie are two very motivated and talented individuals who are very optimistic about the future of the Rebellevations Project!