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Surrounded by the darkness of the night, we look among the billions of little bright stars for hope. But hope is not only found in the sky. It also lies down on earth.
Often what we perceive to be the weakest, like the little stars in the night sky, actually have the greatest potential hidden inside of them.
Art is a powerful medium that can positively shape our communities. It is not just meant to passively decorate our walls. Neither is it only meant for renowned artists. Art is for all of us to use as a tool to express ourselves. It provides unique perspectives, inspires creative solutions, brings communities together, and so much more.
Similarly, youth are able to make a positive impact with their passion, dedication, creativity, and much more. However without resources and access to opportunities, they and their abilities can go unnoticed and unexplored. Youth need a place to be able to develop their ideas and skills, and with nurturing, they have the potential to solve issues in their community.
By exposing youth to the arts, our hope is that we can inspire and empower youth to use arts to create solutions for issues in their local and global communities*. By combining art with various issues and causes, we can all take steps towards creating positive change in our communities. We work to convert passions into tangible impact, and problems into beautiful solutions.
Pondering on an idea, minutes turn into hours, hope turns into a purpose, and soon we fall effortlessly down on a bed of clouds. After all, dreams are created among the clouds.
Dreaming to bridge the uncertainty that lies between arts and other domains of knowledge (such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), we want to empower youngsters to become passionate, lifelong learners who combine various disciplines to create tangible and innovative solutions towards issues in their communities. There isn't one way to solve an issue, and certainly not one means to do it.
Arts for YoungSTARS is a result of combining arts and youth. Our name stands for the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination with the object or purpose of inspiring, creating, and empowering a young generation of children, young people, youth to be fixed luminous points , who solve issues to better their local and global communities.
As such, we wanted to create a visual identity that imparts the partnership between two different domains coming together. Our logo, a stylized “A”, represents young people reaching out to the arts as a tool to create positive change in the world.
The tip represents the practical and tangible change we want to create, with the plus sign standing for the “positive” component of the change. The tool represents our trust in arts and symbolizes the tools used in arts to create artworks, such as a painter's brush or a poet’s pen, with the 5-pointed star reminding us of our 5 pillars (which are supporting health, triggering creativity augmenting partnerships, raising awareness, and sharing opportunities). The person-like shape represents our passion for the other causes we care about too and symbolizes youth reaching out to the arts. The dark background represents the uncertainty and doubt in our mind that often hinders us from taking action on an issue. It also symbolizes the initial void that exists when two opposite things are coming together.
Suddenly, we feel ourselves falling. Rising up to see a blurry world in front of us, we are tempted to fall back into the clouds. But we remember why we started and who we do it for. And so we get back to the work we had left behind on our desk last night.
To create positive change, we use the equation below. It is the foundation upon which we build all our programs and projects.
Art + x = Creating Positive Change
x = partnering cause, issue, domain of knowledge, etc.
We combine art creatively with another partnering element to create positive change. Two variables in our equation are constant: art and creating positive change. However, by varying what we combine art with, we manipulate variable x. Without restricting ourselves to one particular issue or cause, our members have an opportunity to apply their creativity and problem-solving skills to a wide variety of issues and causes they care about. This challenges us to think critically with an interdisciplinary mindset while exploring various issues and causes to see how art can help.
The marriage of the blue and red on a dark gray platform visually represents a common thread that connects all our programs and projects. The blue is the art component and red, the variable component of our programs. For example, Art + Values became the foundation for our After-school Art Program, which uses art activities to complement the positive psychosocial development of children in our local elementary schools in Edmonton.
With the daily hustle and bustle, the single seed of hope slowly matures into a dense, awe-inspiring forest. All the while it stands to empower many others to care for those around us.
Being creative defines us and our work in our communities. We strive to create events, projects, programs, and collaborations that offer a unique perspective. We hope to inspire youth everywhere to use art to solve issues relevant to them and their local and global communities. Since founding our main branch at the University of Alberta in 2013, we have wanted to spread this movement to other universities, high schools, and academic institutions. We encourage youth from different countries and institutions to set up an AFYS branch and use art in unique ways to work on issues in their communities.
Communication opens new doorways to explore new ideas. As such, openness in sharing our ideas is critical. We believe conversations within our group and discussions between other groups spur new ideas with unknown potential. We also encourage other groups to book a meeting with us to discuss ideas and possibilities for collaborations.
Teamwork leads to the growth of the entire community. With that in mind, our members help grow the identity of our entire group. We value all our members. By embracing their strengths and weaknesses, we aim to create an environment where we can learn and grow from one another. Sometimes being a dedicated and involved volunteer leads to not taking enough time for ourselves. This often leads caring individuals to become burnt out. As such, we encourage our members to support one another as a team and ask members to let their team know if they need time off. We believe our members learning to be caring team members and leaders in our community leads to the group's growth and maturity.
One commitment. Our communities.
Student Unions' 2015 Community Outreach Award winner. Photo courtesy of Joanne Ngo.
When we look back at what we have created together, we can't help but smile. Despite hardships and trials, we keep moving along our journey and hope that this path that we created leads to a better tomorrow for all.
Creating positive change is not possible without all of you so we have made it even simpler for you to get involved in the issues and causes you care about.
By signing up to our Subscription Form, you can get involved in the causes you care most about in your local and global community. You will receive monthly news of upcoming events and volunteering opportunities right to your inbox. If you see an opportunity in our newsletter that you will like to participate in, simply complete our Membership Form. As an official member you become eligible for a range of recognitions based on your involvement, such as references letters, awards, and certificates. While you are taking action on what you care about, make sure to submit your weekly participation time in the Timesheet Form. This form will keep track of your participation for your reference letters and other volunteer recognitions (such as certificates, awards, and so on). over the years we have supported our members with their endeavours by providing references to professional programs, graduate schools, scholarship applications, job opportunities, and much more because we want our members to achieve their dreams.
In case you do not find a cause or issue that you are passionate about in our newsletter, please get in touch with us with your cause or issue that you would like to add art with using our Contact Form. We will share your project idea with other members so that they can take action on it as well. Everyone is welcome to join our group or create a (physical or virtual branch) from around the world. Physical branches can be in the form of student clubs at your local university or school. Virtual branches can be formed by creating a team on our group’s Slack account. If you have any questions, please email us at email@example.com.
To create positive change in your community, what will you add art to...?
Stand with us. Make your impact.
Group photo from after the 2016 AFYS Volunteer Appreciation Night. Photo courtesy of Candice Mendoza.