The STEPS program visited MGCI's Art Department to recruit students for their upcoming public art project.

The STEPS program visited MGCI’s Art Department to recruit students for their upcoming public art project.

On Friday, 4 April the STEPS program will return to MGCI to recruit students from Marc Garneau after dropping by at lunchtime on Thursday, 28 March. The group is creating “ARTavists”, young people from the neighbourhood interested in making a change in their neighbourhood through their creative projects.

The Sustainable Thinking and Expression on Public Space (STEP) initiative, together with the Jarvis Collegiate Institute and the SJT youth council is working to father youth from the Thorncliffe area who are interested in developing various public art projects. Last year they developed a series of art works to decorate the fences and walkways behind RB Bradley Park in the heart of Thorncliffe. The project was initially met with speculation and certain difficulties. Young ARTavist Ananna Rafa recalls that they received little support from the local community centers, “No one was really providing us with a place to store our work, we had to keep it all in van, and constantly had to move it around.”Despite these initial struggles, eventually “the community got really involved, everybody started walking around us working…and there is public school nearby [Thorncliffe Park Public School] and the kids there got really excited too.”

Not only did the students involved gain recognition and respect from the community but they also brought attention to the issue of public lighting in the area. Ananna remarks that “the lighting in the area is really poor, and it really isn’t safe at night.” But thanks to the efforts of the project, City Council was made aware and finally began to develop solutions the issue; together with the community and United Way they are working towards dealing with the inadequate lighting in the Throncliffe area.

This is a program which offers students the ability to make their community a more beautiful place and a place more expressive of its culture,and a program which develops numerous skills within its members. “I really learned the importance of getting grants, right, of securing funds, working in this team to get everything done.”, says a previous member.  The program helps students develop employability skills as well: students’ work on managing a project with a team is highly applicable to a variety of professional fields. Students are also taught through experience to manage time, money and effort so that they can produce the most amazing project they can.

This year the program has planned three new projects. The development of a Mural near the school across Overlea Bridge. The second project is a stenciling art piece which will be installed into the lobby of one the building in Thorncliffe. This project will also involve rejuvenating the artwork done on last year’s fencing project. The final artistic venture is going to be an Environmental arts project. This project is very open, the design, location and creating will all be determined by the students.

If you are interested in joining the STEPS initiative, and become a young ARTavist, there is a meeting being held in the Art room at lunch on Friday April 4th.

Additional meetings include:

Sat, April 6, 2:00-5:00pm- Early Learning Centre

Sat, April 13, 2:00-5:00pm- Early Learning Centre