On Thursday, March 1st, over 130 DAREarts student delegates from 18 Etobicoke schools showcased their inner leader on stage at North Albion C.I., cheered on by families, teachers, principals and community leaders. In the heart of Rexdale, an area known for its ongoing battle against poverty and gang violence, the children are stepping forward to celebrate their strengths, their hopes, and their vision for a bright future.
The showcase featured visual art, fashion, drama, dance, music and film created by the youths with arts professionals, exploring the past to the present. Highlights included Juno-nominated musician Glenn Marais performing alongside Grade 7 & 8 students, and David Wall, blues artist and Jazz.FM91’s Director of Community Outreach and Education, alongside Grade 7 students. Community leaders attending included Councillor Michael Ford and TDSB Superintendent Lorraine Linton.
Bullying, peer pressure, violence and delinquency are just a few of our children’s realities. Without leadership opportunities or creative outlets, kids risk becoming targets of negative influences. DAREarts closes the opportunity gap by giving these kids artistic, learning and personal development opportunities. Students joined the program from Albion Heights JMS, Beaumonde Heights JMS, Boys Leadership Academy, Calico PS, Chalkfarm JS, Claireville JS, Dixon Grove JMS, Elmbank JMA, Fairbank PS, Greenholme JMS, Hilltop MS, Humber Summit MS, Melody Village JS, Rivercrest JS, Smithfield MS, St. Jude CS, The Elms JMS and West Humber JMS.
The annual DAREarts Winter Showcase is a community celebration of our children’s learning and a testament to their leadership potential. DAREarts uses the arts as a tool to empower kids with the courage and confidence to be their best. They are dared to opt out of destructive behaviour and expectations of failure, and to redefine themselves in a positive environment. The children are tasked with the job of going back to their schools after each DAREarts Day to peer teach their classmates, sharing knowledge and experience. DAREarts’ Toronto program works with 9 to 14 year olds from schools in high-priority neighbourhoods, where select schools choose two students from Grades 4 to 8 who are in need of broader opportunities.
The children explore renowned arts and cultural venues including the AGO, the Aga Khan Museum, Bata Shoe Museum, Remenyi House of Music, Ballet Jorgen, Gardiner Museum of Ceramics, University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, the Toronto School of Art and more, opening their eyes to a wider world. Inspired by these experiences they work alongside the DAREarts teaching team and professional artists to create their own works while exercising the values of Discipline, Action, Responsibility, and Excellence.
Established 22 years ago, DAREarts has a proven track record of inspiring at-risk kids to reach their full potential. DAREarts has reached over 200,000 kids, providing the leadership skills needed to avoid the pitfalls of drugs, guns and gangs. DAREarts’ success stories include young adults in business, medicine, law and education.
DAREarts is grateful to all its supporters including National Supporter: Northbridge Insurance; Lead Supporters: Anne Livingston, Baton Rouge, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the Ontario Arts Council; and Toronto Education Partners: Toronto District School Board, TELUS and Wells Fargo.
Photos courtesy of Alan Dunlop.