Amal's words were punctuated by a stutter. She rarely spoke, and held herself back from opportunities to avoid embarrassment. At DAREarts, she began to see her own potential during group discussions. Despite her fear, she could see that her words carried value. At the end of her first year, she stood in front of an audience of 500 and spoke without a single pause: “I used to be shy, but here I am. Look at me now!”
Kaitlyn lives in the fly-in only Aboriginal community of Webequie. Difficulties at home, peer pressure, drug abuse and language barriers caused her to struggle in school. With each passing day at DAREarts, her confidence in herself, her teachers, her community and her peers grew. During DAREarts, she spoke a language that she was passionate about and fluent in - the language of art. When asked what she thought of her painting, she responded: ”I am proud.”
At 13 years-old, Joey had trouble finding her voice in a large class surrounded by outspoken females and enthusiastic male athletes. As DAREarts progressed, she began to find her niche, no longer a shadow on the wall. After her final performance in front of 60 strangers, there was a Q&A period. It became obvious that the students were not as confident answering questions from strangers as they were in the classroom. Joey saved the day. She began fielding the questions with confidence and humour, as if she'd been doing it her whole life. She even started appointing different students to answer questions like a true leader. An amazing transformation which she continued to build upon throughout the remainder of the year, en route to winning the Citizenship award!
Griffin is a bright, curious and energetic young person with autism. New experiences and social settings can be daunting and challenging for him to navigate, but DAREarts provided the nurturing environment he needed. With support, he overcame the challenges of meeting new people, trying new art forms and visiting new places to grow into a more courageous leader, artist and person.
Seeing specialists for years for his anger issues, Elijah often shut down with a blank stare and was unwilling to talk. DAREarts artist Alan Syliboy instantly recognized Elijah's unique artistic talent and spent extra time with him. Elijah was deeply moved. When he didn’t think anyone was watching, a huge smile of pride lit his face. Later, when he had difficulty sharing with the group, he shed tears and excused himself. He came back seeking Alan’s autograph, full of a newfound confidence. His teachers and guardians are now seeking art therapy for him, after witnessing the power of art in healing his emotional issues.
My teachers thought I needed a confidence boost. “I am the youngest student ever on my school’s council! I showed my principal what I was learning at DAREarts and now I have all the right qualifications!”
Jeffery lacked discipline and spoke whatever was on his mind. At DAREarts, he waited patiently for his turn. “I really didn’t think that I was able to be self-disciplined. I surprised myself… and my mom!” Jeffery
Brenda came to DAREarts with dangerously low self-esteem and a poor self-image. She was terrified on her first day. At DAREarts, she soon experienced the joy of trying new things in a supportive environment and found the courage to celebrate her individuality. "I know now that I am Excellent."
Not every child is lucky enough to have a safe and supportive environment at school and at home. Justin arrived at DAREarts with downcast eyes and a shy demeanor. However, over the past two years, he has blossomed in the program. Through uplifting experiences in dance, drama, visual art and music, he found a way to express himself and had the chance to feel valued and powerful.
At school, in grade 5 Charlie had experienced vicious bullying, beyond name-calling. At DAREarts, he has learned to be strong. The bullying hasn’t stopped, but he has learned to stand up for himself and have internalized the DARE values of Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence. Through DAREarts, I have discovered that I am a leader.
“Because of DAREarts I am more of a leader and more confident in myself. Learning how to be a leader was great because I finally got pushed to my limit. The most interesting part of it for me was the support coming from the DAREarts teachers. In one word, DAREarts is outstanding!” Partnering with Vancouver Opera, DAREarts knows that if we introduce the arts to children early enough, then they will carry a sense of wonder, a love of learning and an inner strength throughout their lives.
Javier had been severely bullied at his school. He broke down sobbing as he shared his story at DAREarts. Another boy put his arm around his shoulder and said how he admired him for having the courage to speak up and lead the way. "At DAREarts, I found courage, hope and a place to belong."
Michael is in grade 5. Despite trying hard to make friends at school, He “was invisible to others,” and was bullied when he tried to share his love of acting and comedy. At DAREarts, he found the strength to share his sense of humour and a community of other kids that accept him with open arms.
“The skill that I think I will use most in the future is interacting with other people. Because of DAREarts I’m not that silent around strangers anymore. I learned that by being a leader I can help a lot of people. Everything at DAREarts is very interesting, especially making new friends.” For three years now, Grade 6 and 7 students in downtown eastside Vancouver have dedicated their time to DAREarts, a program focused on using the arts to instill leadership skills using the principles of Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence.
Jante habitually hid in the bathroom and didn’t speak. He distanced himself from everyone. At DAREarts, he found his passion for dance, voluntarily performing in front of his peers with flawless moves. In his final DAREarts year, he was confident enough to show others who he was, making many friends. He guided DAREarts newcomers on how to handle being nervous. Jante now enjoys being an example for others. “DAREarts has shown me that the potential to be a leader resides in everyone.”
T-Rence came to Canada from St. Lucia. At DAREarts, he was a great participator but a speech impediment made him hesitant to speak. In his first year, he received a DAREarts t-shirt. He wore that t-shirt like a team jersey every single day through the following year. In his third year, he was given a special dare to speak on behalf of his peers. After years of struggling to communicate, he spoke on stage in front hundreds of strangers with the pride of being his team’s captain.
When Tai started DAREarts he had a difficulty focusing and getting himeself involved with his peers. He struggled to finish tasks, keep attention to lessons and remain attentive. He soon realized that he needed to direct his energy into movement and by making short-term goals. Through inner discipline and self-regulation he found a means to be able to learn and experience what previously was a daily struggle.
Jasper showed keen interest every day at DAREarts by constantly using the DARE values and routines, and also with his peers at school. He reminded his fellow delegates every time they got on the bus in the mornings if they had everything they needed on their responsibility check list without prompt. "What I like best about DAREarts overall was when we would go over the DARE values: Discipline, Action, Responsibility, Excellence!"
I spoke rarely. With DAREarts, I shone on stage and voluntarily took on leadership roles that celebrated my voice. I moved from silence to a gentle roar, finding that I had a safe place and my voice mattered.
‘OH MS. MS. MS. I KNOW THE ANSWER!’ Vikesh constantly yelled across the classroom. Vikesh in grade four struggled with self-regulating his impulses and actions. But with DAREarts’ habitual routine, he began to learn how to limit his outbursts. When he returned to DAREarts for grade five, he channeled his energy into a simple gesture that reminds him to keep calm and be patient. Vikesh continues to show leadership through his self-disciplining and sharing so that his peers can step up to the plate too.
“We learned the difference between being a loud leader and a leader that leads by example. We learned how to be both. DAREarts shows you all the steps to being a leader and they help you through them. It was an amazing adventure.” For three years now, Grade 6 and 7 students in downtown eastside Vancouver have dedicated their time to DAREarts, a program focused on using the arts to instill leadership skills using the principles of Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence.
Bery was uncertain about speaking out loud for fear that she would sound ‘bossy’ or that people would criticize her. One day at DAREarts, she needed to take action and lead on her group’s work. She directed her team through a successful team activity and found that, instead of negative reactions, she received a rush of support and appreciation from those around her. Now she can speak and be a guiding voice.
Alex is an extremely timid and quiet individual. He often doesn't insert himself into activities like his peers at DAREarts and at school. On dance day he struggles with learning the movements and vocally informed DAREarts that he didn’t know how to move in such a way. His tenacity and commitment to keep up with his fellow delegates inspired others to follow him in his perseverance to try to replicate the choreography given. This tenacity was reflected in everything he did and continued on in the following days at program, and was positively contagious to his peers. "Being a leader made me feel like a king!"
“Because of DAREarts I am different. I am more focused on my work and I am disciplined. My heart feels full.” For three years now, Grade 6 and 7 students in downtown eastside Vancouver have dedicated their time to DAREarts, a program focused on using the arts to instill leadership skills using the principles of Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence.
Gabriel came to DAREarts in grade five. She expressed that she didn’t have many friends at school and was often bullied. A year later, she had a happier demeanor and a better outlook towards going to school and being social. She was able to find a small group of friends who had similar interests and respected her as an equal. She learned that friends should value who you are.
The Grade 7–9 students in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, dedicated a week to DAREarts, focusing on the DAREarts principles of Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence, along with the Seven Grandfather Teachings. In five days, the children sketched and painted; created their own puppets; brainstormed a collaborative story, “The Nothing Man;” composed and recorded their own song, “MelKiknoti, Courage;” and proudly showcased their creative works for their community.
Nikolaos arrived in Canada two years ago from Greece. At school, he was a bully to his classmates. He expressed himeself through aggression and was influenced by negative individuals. At DAREarts, he articulated his thoughts and feelings in discussions and took responsibilities seriously. He felt that DAREarts was a safe gateway from what he experienced outside of the program. “At DAREarts I could make new friends and this is like my dream vacation.”
ATTAWAPISKAT FN – Jack Linklater Jr., 17 “We are able to tell our own stories. Bringing out our identity is important. There is hope and we all matter. I want to go to University and study Indigenous Health and Wellness because I want to help my community.”
“I felt a sense of belonging at DAREarts. I feel loved and everybody belongs in our circle. I look at discipline in a new way. I used to think the museum was boring but I changed my mind.”
“DAREarts has made me step out of my comfort zone and be a confident person. I like that I’m not afraid to be myself and am able to open up to new experiences.” Partnering with the Vancouver Opera, DAREarts knows that if we introduce the arts to children early enough, then they will carry a sense of wonder, a love of learning and an inner strength throughout their lives.
In the fly-in only Aboriginal community of Webequie, my incredible musical skill on guitar suffered from my lack of self-confidence. Despite my ability to play brilliantly, I shied away from compliments and stuck to cover songs. When DAREarts gave me the push to compose an original melody and harmonies to accompany the lyrics the class wrote together, I rose to the occasion and blew everyone away with my unique and catchy style. I stepped out of my shell with my head held high, guitar in hand.
Machyi was often in trouble. At DAREarts he learned to deal with his temper and was elected class leader. “DAREarts makes me want to be a better leader.”
“I learned how to be more of a leader by helping, taking charge, going where I’m needed etc. I got to draw and I like to draw; and I also got to work with people I’ve never worked with before.” Partnering with the Vancouver Opera, DAREarts knows that if we introduce the arts to children early enough, then they will carry a sense of wonder, a love of learning and an inner strength throughout their lives.
“DAREarts is like life training. I’m using everything you teach me now, but when I go into high school and college… Oh boy, I can’t even imagine never being in DAREarts.”
Leaving his British Columbia aboriginal community to live in Vancouver left twelve year old Taran disorientated and struggling. After two hours of DAREarts, he cussed at the teacher and left. They later discussed how Taran was at “the part in the movie where the good guy decides to be good and returns.” The values of DARE were held up as a map to make his “superstar comeback,” after which he rose to every occasion. Taran spoke on behalf all 50 students about DAREarts being “an awesome mother.”
Trenton, 18, “When DAREarts came to Webequie, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t think DAREarts was for me. I sat there quietly to listen to what they had to say. What stood out to me the most was moccasin making. It made me wonder if it’s the same way Webequie makes moccasins, so I stayed a little longer. I thought I was going to finish them in three days. But I made mistakes the first two days. I wanted to quit. The instructor said that he’ll be here in the evenings so I went there to catch up. I didn’t finish my muks in two weeks. The following week, the teacher asked me what I want to do and I replied, “I want to finish my muks.” Almost a month later I finished my mukluks. I don’t know how many times I started over from the mistakes I made, but I told myself I was going to finish them. Discipline, Action, Respect and Excellence: remembering these teachings from DAREarts taught me a new lesson in life: “If you fall down you can always get back up stronger. ”
Jocelyn, 12, and thirty fellow Webequie teens were challenged by DAREarts to create their own movie. They experienced every aspect of filmmaking from story development, site preparation, props, costumes, acting and shooting. They had to learn patience, concentration and respect for each other. The whole community responded enthusiastically to the teens’ movie, seeing their community through their children’s eyes.