A group of young Scarborough artists are not only showing healthy living through their art, but actually supporting local health care by donating a portion of the proceeds from their current art show to The Scarborough Hospital.
The artists belong to a program called Healthy Living through Art (HLA), which fuses the arts with healthy lifestyle education and demonstrates that creative expression is an effective tool for learning, communicating, relationship-building and leading a healthy lifestyle.
“Our HLA projects provide education and foster creativity, teamwork and leadership,” says Nessa Babli, Program Director. “It’s a great platform and a fabulous opportunity to support young emerging local artists by allowing them to explore their talents. It’s also a place of civic engagement for parents and youth.”
The program is situated in Scarborough’s Kingston/Galloway-Orton park area, which has a high concentration of social housing and an area of the community that is under-served. HLA aims to break down barriers so kids can gain access to resources such as professional instruction and media supplies, which are key elements to the program’s success.
“It’s been almost five years since we started the program,” says Shillan Jabbar, art teacher for HLA. “We receive support from community organizations to ensure the program is free for low-income families so we can teach kids about health through a variety of activities.”
The program was developed in 2008 by a committee of concerned parents striving to improve and nurture community health, creative expression, family connections and community safety.
“I like how they let us show creativity in many different ways,” says 14-year-old Mahira. “Art is something I like to do for downtime that helps me with everything else in my life.”
She adds that all the teachers are very supportive and walk the kids through all aspects of the different activities.
“They never leave us hanging,” she says.
Their current art exhibition is being displayed in TSH’s Artists’ Walkway, which was created as a labour of love by a former TSH staff member and flourished into a rotating gallery. The exhibits, which have included staff art, children’s art, quilt art and winter scenes, change every few months to keep the walkway fresh.
“We are so proud to display the artwork of these budding new artists,” says Debbie Vandenberg, Manager, Volunteer Services. “It is through the time and talents of our community members that we can continue building a strong hospital and enhance health care for residents of Scarborough.”
The Healthy Living through Art show at TSH runs until July 30, and features 18 artists from ages nine to 18 who are selling their artwork and donating a portion of the proceeds to the hospital.
“The Scarborough Hospital has a tremendous social impact in the community,” says Nessa. “We are thankful they are showcasing our program’s artwork and we are delighted to choose them as a noble cause.”