I recently became aware of two interesting charities in Toronto, both of which use art and artistic practice to encourage people in quite different ways. Interesting, because making art is a great way to get outside of one’s own head and creative expression is an important skill to learn, or re-learn as the case may be.
The first charity is called Art City in St. James Town and provides after school art programs to elementary school children. It acts as a place for kids to be between school time and when their parents come home from work.
The programs are designed to “foster creative thinking and nuture self-esteem and creative accomplishment.” Each year they have a fundraiser where children’s work is auctioned. And some of it – see photos – is pretty good.
Hearing about the second charity was quite touching. It is called The Bridge, and is a charitable Anglican ministry that works with prisoners through both institutional and reintegration programs. I mention them, because I was introduced to Garry Glowacki, one of their ministers (himself a formerly troubled youth).
He told me about the art programs that The Bridge offers, including one over Christmas called “Art from the Heart”, which offered prisoners “the opportunity to give instead of take, to love not to hate, to feel wanted and appreciated” by decorating ornaments, which were given to charities who distributed them as presents to those in need.
For the men, it was their only opportunity to give a gift.