Selkirk College and Service Canada have partnered to provide a 24-week program for youth at risk to help them become prepared for employment thorough expressive arts.
The Employment Preparation through Expressive Arts Program (EPEAP) addresses the barriers often faced by marginalized youth. Through the program, participants are introduced to new experiences, situations and training that may facilitate the movement past obstacles such as: addiction related challenges, physical and emotional health issues, domestic and dating violence, peer and relationship issues, legal issues, employment and educational challenges and acceptance by the greater community.
With a combination of expressive arts techniques (performing and fine arts) and facilitated employability skills training, the youth are exposed to skill-building exercises in areas including self-esteem, interpersonal communication and employability. Throughout the program, the participants are provided with the opportunity to gain certificates in Standard First Aid, Serve it Right and Superhost. The participants are also creating and promoting their own visual art exhibits and theatrical performances.
Coordinator and Instructor, Andy Holmes, is looking forward to the results of the program. “It is our hope that by the completion of the program, the students will be more ‘job ready’ and will have the ability to formulate a plan for his/her next steps, employment, volunteering, entrepreneurship or education. It is a great opportunity for the youth to develop the self-confidence necessary to move forward towards their goals.”
As part of the EPEAP program, the students (Raw Theatre Productions) will be presenting visual art shows at the Grind Café in Rossland from July 17-31 and the Trail Coffee & Tea Company from August 1-25. A theatrical performance will take place at Selkirk College in Trail on August 27 at 5:00 pm. There will also be informal rehearsals/performances in local parks. Admission is free for these events.
“These shows provide the youth with the opportunity to interact with the community in positive and creative ways,” said Andy. “The youth have worked hard in creating the varied shows and performances to be seen this summer and take pride in the opportunity to present them in different communities.”
There are currently six youth enrolled in the program, which is being run out of Selkirk’s Trail Campus until the end of August, 2009. Participants had to go through a selection process based on criteria outlined by Service Canada. The Government of Canada is the main financial contributor to the program with appreciated in-kind support from Charles Bailey Theatre, Freedom Quest, the Doukhobour Heritage Retreat Society, Art for People Projects and the West Kootenay Youth and Adult Woodshop (Career Development Services).
First published on July 13, 2009