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Abbotsford youth capturing voice – in collaboration with UFV



The visual arts department at the University of the Fraser Valley has partnered with I-Lead Abby to collaborate on a photovoice project; an exhibition of photos and stories from youth in the Abbotsford community.

I-Lead Abby is a non-profit creative arts organization whose mission is to promote arts, culture, and music for youth and create a positive atmosphere. The main idea behind this collaboration was to connect the UFV VA 390 Community Arts Practice class with a community organization.

The students of VA 390 and Abbotsford high school students from three different schools have worked hard in preparing an exhibition which inspires youth to have a voice of their own which can be overlooked. Six students from grades 8-11 were brave and passionate enough to participate in this youth-empowered celebration of art. They chose to share the most important aspects of their lives in the form of photography in an exhibit that will be showcased for the community to view.

“The VA 390 class took all their images and did some editing, made selections, printed, dry-mounted, and framed all of their photography. We even interviewed them and used their audio for quotes that were transcribed and turned into wall-mounted quotes, adding to the visual effects and the theme of the exhibition,” Toni Latour, VA 390 course instructor, said.

The VA 390 class also took field trips to I-Lead Abby to view the site where the exhibit would be showcased and went shopping for supplies at Opus Art Supplies in Langley.

Latour said that she was extremely impressed and inspired by the youth committing their time, energy, and resources to this extracurricular activity, and appreciated their will to participate in creative projects. The exhibit, she said, was a great example of how youth enjoy platforms like these, since it gives them a voice and makes them feel their presence in the world.

Priya Sharma, general coordinator director for I-Lead Abby, was thrilled to speak on the importance of this collaboration for her team. Since most of I-Lead’s team are UFV alumni, it was natural for them to contact UFV for a partnership.

Sharma also said how lucky it was for them to have this, as I-Lead’s passion is to engage youth through various creative mediums, which is why collaboration with UFV visual arts was a good avenue for partnership. She hopes to have similar projects take shape with UFV in the near future.  

Having personally worked on this exhibition along with my VA 390 class, I hope that all the visitors to our exhibition will experience innocence, creativity, hope, and compassion, each captured perfectly in photographs and words. The ideas and imagination present in the mural are breathtakingly beautiful.

Be there to show your support for our local youth and future leaders: the launch for the photovoice project will take place on April 5 from 3-5 p.m. at I-Lead Abby, 33779 Essendene Ave. in Abbotsford. All are welcome to visit the exhibit.

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