Summer is HERE!

Summer is here! What does that mean? The 2010 Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Summer Program has launched. This year participants of the Regent Park Focus Summer program have many different programs for children and youth to join. The main theme of our work in the summer is on Life Skills Development and Youth Mental Health, which also includes other social issues effecting youth such as; peer pressure, substance abuse, racism, discrimination, the environment and so much more. Each day we offer a series of two hour workshops. The goal of each of the workshops is to create an arts project that is based on resiliency skills such as; leadership, team work, goal setting, project-task management and conflict resolution and explores issues related to youth mental health.

First off, every Monday afternoons we have a group of Brown high school placement students who are doing a placement at George Brown College. These students are working on an audio play and producing their very own radio show segment on the issue of youth mental health. One of the highlights so far was when a guest speaker named Sophia Bishop a consultant from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) came in to facilitate a workshop. It was an eye opening experience for all of us because she gave us a context of people with mental health. We also learned some interesting facts and myths. This enabled the participants to learn more critically about mental health and perform skits on different issues related to people and mental health.
Every Tuesday, children from Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club and Central Neighborhood House come in to take part in a comic book program that runs for most of the day. The instructor for the program is Michael Welsh. He assists the children to make their very own comic strip. Michael shows the participants in the program that comics are not always about super heroes, villains and violence. The comic strip the participants are working on are creative stories that incorporate a social issue. Michael also teaches the children cool drawing tricks. The kids have the option of doing individual comic strips or work as a group to create a collaborative comic strip.

Late on Tuesdays, a group of high school students involved with Regent Park Television (RPTV) come in to work on a video about a couple struggling on poverty and a lottery ticket that goes a miss. The facilitator of the workshop is our veteran facilitator Emmanuel Kedini. Emmanuel teaches the participants all the technical work and how to use a video camera and other equipment. The students will also learn how to film and edit the video.
On Wednesdays morning children from Kiwanis Club comes in to work with Emmanuel and a theatre arts instructor who goes by the name of De-licious. These youth are using role play to develop a video script that they will produce. De-licious starts the group off with ice-breakers and interactive, fun games that connect the youth to the skills and talents that they will use in their workshop. The participants in the video programs have faced their fears of performing in front of people and participated in individual and group improvisations and skits. The participants love acting and role playing.

Late Wednesday afternoons, another group of older youth from Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club come in to learn how to produce their own video documentary. The documentary that they are working on will explore youth thoughts on current events.

On Thursdays mornings children from Dixon Hall come in to work on life skills program that uses photography and arts and crafts. The workshop is instructed by Emie Can. To date she has shown the group how to draw character sketches and plans on creating many artistic works with the children. She also had the kids explore their neighborhood using photography with. The children plan on incorporating their photographs into murals and fun craft work. The arts and crafts will be showcased to their friends and family after the end of the program.

In August, we will be running a Divas summer workshop for young women in the area. The workshop will take place every Friday afternoons. The Divas will help girls learn how to grow up to be a strong young female, including learning how to bond together in sisterhood while participating in activities and field trips. Note: If you are a young woman and are interested in the Divas come by Regent Park Focus to register.

The summer program is progressing very successfully. At the end of each workshop, all participants fill out a weekly evaluation telling us what they thought of the session they were in. This helps us to improve the program and learn more about each of the participants. So far we have learned that the children and youth enjoy working on their activities and small projects in small groups and individually and have learned a lot in the short time they were here. We discovered that participants’ who were shy, were able to step out of their comfort zone and express their talents and work together as a group. However, there are more skills to be explored and challenges to face.

♥Michele Peter♥

Youth Worker/Summer Program Coordinator 2010

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