The Difference You Can Make in a Day (or Two): youthLEADarts at Hastings Elementary

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.” Nelson Mandela

Can you learn to lead in a day? Can you listen closely enough that you absorb something new and empathize with values from another culture in less than eight hours? Can you create art, then develop a platform for it so it impacts others, informs them, moves them and brings them one step closer to bringing harmony to our planet? 

If you asked any of the students in the four grade 6/7 classes the youthLEADarts team worked with at Hastings Elementary, they would reply, “Yes. Yes you can.” 

Each class connected with LEAD values and combined them with the theme of our roles and responsibilities to our waterways and the creatures who inhabit them. After all, water IS life and we have to protect it for generations to come. 

The D in LEAD is often the most difficult to embody: Drive. How do you take what you have learned, created, and spoken to and create a platform where it can speak to others? 

The youth and teachers at Hastings embraced this, and, inspired by our introduction, have reached out to additional local experts and organizations to dive deeper into an exploration of our relationship to water. For the month of April, they are hosting speakers from Ocean Wise and Coastal Clean Up as well as municipal employees involved in creating environmental policy. They will be going on field trips to local beaches and recovered salmon streams to observe, photograph and interact with the waterways, which happen to be part of their community. 

They will be hosting a large community showcase of the art they created with youthLEADarts, in addition to the spoken word and photographs that result from their month long immersion in water (pun intended). 

Finally, we hope to partner with the University of British Columbia and the Beatty Biodiversity Museum to display their art there for a period. 

What have we accomplished together in a day (or two)? It is best captured in the words of one of the teachers.

“It was very special what youthLEADarts shared with us. We were given a great gift and the students were very touched and moved by it. It was really important to have fresh faces to lead workshops in our classes. We loved that the day allowed us to transpose our learning into different mediums: Indigenous studies, dance, drama, visual art…combined with the scientific facts that Roy brought. Connecting with artists across Canada was another bonus. It extended our sense of community. We are excited that we , in just one day we have created something impactful to share with others, something that straight up says, ‘We are people who are making a difference.’”