Creative expression has positive impacts

·3 min read

Local studios provide a base

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

If the lyrics from an eighties classic read true and children are our future, let them lead the way.

That’s the goal of a local youth empowerment partnership between Columbia Valley Youth Network and the Summit Youth Hub, which just wrapped their school-based program, Creative Collective.

It’s been a year of working together to increase programming, said Alison Bortolon, Summit Youth Hub Director. She and her colleague, Angela Miller, coordinator at Columbia ValleyYouth Network, have blended a collection of local creatives and artists into a program feeding the minds and imaginations of the students.

The program is funded by The Columbia Basin Trust and the youth network to fuel creativity in youth, Bortolon said. She intends for there to be positive effects on the kids’ mental health as well.

“These outlets also have a positive impact on mental health, through creativity and expression. The best part is that we bring in professionals from their very community,” said Bortolon.

Local authors, Tony Berryman and Juanita Violini, shared their collective experiences in creative writing and the art of mystery writing, respectively. The Invermere Public Library followed up the sessions with an opportunity for students to make their own story books, said Miller.

Creative sessions this year included ‘Clay Me’s,’ with art instruction by Invermere’s Black Star Studio, where youth painted and made clay sculptures. Positivity buttons and two winged murals in the valley were also produced in the program.

Local musician and teacher, Oso Simple, led a songwriting workshop and Kimberley Estabrooks from Kimberley Rae Photography led a photography session; both areas are strong in personal expression. That photography lesson allowed the kids to capture emotional images with iPads, said Miller.

“In the past two years, we have had a variety of creative individuals join the project,” said Miller.

The basic idea is that youth try out a variety of expressive outlets and maybe find one they enjoy and can pursue in the future.

“This helps grow community relationships and helps youth to see themselves in the community,” said Bortolon.

Creative Collective and Black Star plan a series of 11 sets of wings from Canal Flats to Spillimacheen to be ready by the end of April.

“This has been a creative project painted by the youth in their community,” said Miller. “Our hope is that it will enhance the contribution and participation in Wings over the Rockies 2023 by valley youth, as well it gives the youth joy to see a piece of their artwork up for others to view so that they can share with their family and friends in a fun way.”

Windermere’s wings are on Windermere School. Edgewater’s wings can be seen at the community skating rink. Creative’s sessions have been in Edgewater and Windermere’s schools, with hopes of expanding into Canal Flats and Invermere following the March break.

The program was was funded in 2022 by CBT’s community initiatives grant. To continue into 2023, CVYN joined forces with them.

“It is our hope through these projects that youth learn new skills, learn more about themselves and their community and most importantly, have fun,” said Bortolon.

Chadd Cawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer