It was a successful Mom Festival in Fort St. James but even more so, for organizers whose big drive was to encourage youth engagement this year.
And that they did as children and youth of various ages took part in free workshops at the festival as part of the Freedom Arts Empowerment Program.
Participants were able to personally take advice and learn from the festival’s performers.
“This is so exciting for us,” festival organizer, Lionel Conant said. “To be able to offer this to local youth is amazing.”
On Aug. 18, Juno and Aboriginal People’s Choice Award winner, George Leach presented his Following Your Dreams Youth Program. The program was offered free to all area youth as part of the new Youth Empowerment in the Arts project.
This was an exciting launch made possible by the collaboration between Fort St. James District, Nak’azdli Whut’en, local and regional arts organizations, local businesses, artists, the public education system and area youth.
The Vancouver Foundation has given a grant in support of the project as well and funds have also been received from Nak’azdli Whut’en, the BC Arts Council Youth Engagement Program and the Community Arts Council of Fort St. James.
Through this project, students will have the opportunity to learn from professional musicians, create their own projects and perform their creations once completed.
This project will also allow Fort St James Secondary students the opportunity to earn elective arts credits towards graduation.
“The project is about community working together,” said Shauna Hesse, grant writer for Fort St. James.
“We are pooling out strengths to give our children the arts education they deserve.”
As for the George Leach workshop, kids were keen and ready to go.
Organizer, Angela Roy, was thrilled with the response.
“It was amazing. We had about 10 kids attend. They learned about singing and song writing, Roy said.
“They were even able to jam with him. It was amazing.”
Youth leadership is vital to the project’s success. A Youth Arts Council will be created.
If you would like to take part, contact: Shauna Hesse at firstname.lastname@example.org or Beth Blew at: email@example.com