New program in BC creates platform for youth to express themselves and get connected
Saturday, July 18, 2020

Express yourself! That’s the message DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society is sharing with diverse youth in Surrey, BC, launching a new program to help them build their confidence, connections and mental wellbeing through creative expression.

Youth Expressions! is funded by the Canadian government’s Emergency Community Support Fund and administered by the United Way of Lower Mainland. The program aims to empower diverse teenagers (aged 13 to 24) to engage with community programs, gain confidence, improve their coping strategies and mental health, and make new friends — even if just virtually for now.

Newcomer youth are a growing demographic in BC, but they face unique challenges as they settle into Canada, from language barriers, to trauma, to lack of community connections. In this time of COVID-19, these obstacles are amplified, and young newcomers are facing additional stress and isolation, impacting their mental wellbeing.

The program will be delivered with a cultural, artistic approach and will use expressive arts therapy, dance and other forms of expression, so that youth can express themselves in creative ways. A variety of workshops and activities will be offered and an eight-week online workshop series called CommuniCreate, a partnership with SFU Surrey – TD Community Engagement Centre, has already been launched. Between now and March 2021, more program components will roll out that will focus on expressive art therapy, dance, yoga, healthy communication, physical literacy, social emotional learning, leadership capacity, mindfulness and dialectical behavioral therapy.

“The newcomer youth we work with have told us they have been feeling isolated and lonely, even depressed, as a result of COVID-19. They were missing in-person socialization with their peers,” says Mike Lally, Manager, Youth Programs, DIVERSEcity. “With Youth Expressions!, we want them to feel an increased sense of belonging by bringing them together through online platforms, giving them the time and space to connect with other youth in creative ways. We’ve already had some tell us they are feeling less alone and isolated.”

According to an article from the Institute for Arts Integration and Steam, “students who are given the opportunity to create art will create something that in some way reflects their own culture. If students see their culture reflected in the environment, and are given the space to express themselves through their art making, that will help to create that safe environment." For more information, click here.

Source: Canadian Immigrant magazine. Read full article.