A Time to LEAD

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford

From February 5th to 9th, 2020, several members of the ARTCi team launched a new arts based leadership program with a class of grade 6/7 students at Britannia Elementary on Vancouver’s East Side. Students were immersed for an entire week in a collaborative program where the guiding principles of Listen Empathize Act & Drive (LEAD) were introduced through the arts. Our goals…to inspire youth to discover and apply their potential, to believe they can be positive changemakers and to help them discover the tools that they have to do so.

Our process began months ago, planning, fundraising and developing LEAD with valued mentor Marilyn Field MSM and founder of 2020 World. Marilyn is an internationally renowned education revolutionary, executive, advisor and artiste, known for effectively integrating the arts into education curriculae to foster creative thinking, confidence, courage, excellence and innovative action in youth.

Elder Amanda encourages students on day one of LEAD. Photo Roy Mulder

Day one featured a visit from the Vancouver School Board’s Indigenous Elder in Residence, Elder Amanda White. In a talking circle, she spoke of how everyone in her Haida village had a role regardless of ability or age. Her grandmother’s role in the community was to teach everyone how to chop wood. Her grandmother was blind. She told students that there is no word in Haida for “I” there is only “We”. It was clear that this teaching resonated with students as at the end of the day they posted reflections such as, “I learned everything is easier with a team,” and “I learned that we are stronger when we work together.”

Students use drama to express LEAD values.

The afternoon was spent playing some drama games to ignite the spirit of cooperation and community. Students also used digital media to capture images that reflected LEAD values and learned how to effectively embrace photography as a storytelling medium using different angles.

At the end of the day, in our closing circle students and mentors shared:

-they had learned the importance of being flexible

-they felt more comfortable and happy with themselves

-a little art and a lot of heart can go a long way!

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