Youth Stayed Creative this Summer at Camp Nia - Nia Centre for the Arts

Youth Stayed Creative this Summer at Camp Nia

By Nia Centre, p
Posted on September 12, 2022

This summer, we held our first traditional summer camp to keep youth active and engaged over the school holidays. With limited in-person opportunities for youth in the city, this camp provided an opportunity for these youth to create, explore and make new friends. Throughout the summer participants experimented with a range of unique art projects. From making whipped shea butter, crafting African masks, and visiting afrocentric art exhibitions: these youth had a summer full of creation.

Youth were led by the multi-talented Chason Yeboah. With a craft that spans textile sculpting, crochet, community workshops and a doula practice, Chason was able to help participants tap into their own unique creative power. When asked about the importance of a camp like this Chason said, “It promotes and sustains their developing mental health." She continued " t allows them the opportunity to explore themselves outside and the change of environment allows for self-discovery which fosters their social development.”

The multidisciplinary nature of the program meant that youth were able to enjoy a wide range of activities, with many opportunities for reflection and socialization. For many of our campers, this was the first exposure to multi-disciplinary arts. Seeing them overcome their anxieties about working with new medium’s proved the importance of freedom and exploration in art. At times they would enter an activity like journaling feeling very shy and reserved, but they quickly became comfortable and would go straight to their journals as they came in each morning.

In our time working with youth, we have always found that creativity is fostered when merged with opportunities for holistic development. The campers also worked closely with youth work, Fadima Ali, who was able to provide support for the campers emotional wellbeing. Fadima cited her social work degree and experience as a useful tool when working with youth. It helped her know what to observe in the campers in order to assess their needs. She emphasized the importance of giving them space to share their feelings and experiences as this influenced their interest in the activities and allowed authenticity to shine through in their art projects.

With our mission to support the development of youth, we were also able to provide a learning opportunity for placement student Ajani Jackson during summer camp. Ajani, a Black Students Summer Leadership Program student from the TDSB, chose Nia Centre as a space to hone his facilitation skills and work with younger students.

Summer is a time to socialize and hang out with friends and the ongoing pandemic means that youth have missed out on crucial social and interactive activities. We made sure to emphasize experiential learning by taking campers on field trips to some of the city's most prominent art institutions. They visited and toured the Bata Shoe Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Gardiner Museum. Completing hands-on art activities and going on field trips allowed campers to bond and form relationships with one another. They were continuously encouraged to build their confidence in community, nurture their curiosity, and champion their individuality.

The camp provided a unique opportunity for parents to learn more about their children’s interests in the arts. One parent said, “I truly feel that my boys benefitted from their time at the Nia Centre and learnt some fascinating and inspiring things. They are still speaking of their experience to this day, and I think this will be a core memory of our Black Canadian experience for them.” 

With the opening of our new space at 524 Oakwood Ave, creating opportunities for youth to explore their interests over the summer will be an exciting endeavour for us at the Centre. 

Want to stay up to date with our upcoming programs for youth? Check out our fall offerings here!

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