By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 5, 2024.
A collaboration between Wood’s Homes and the Galt Museum is providing youth a safe place to explore the therapeutic benefits of art while learning what mental health means to them.
For the past three months, a small group of young people ranging from 13 to 22 have met twice monthly at the Galt Museum to learn, create, and connect. Working with local artists, and the Youth Employment Connections Program at Wood’s Homes, the group is part of an initiative to provide young people with the opportunity to explore non-traditional approaches to pursuing a career and developing their skills while learning how to navigate the world of professional arts.
More importantly though, the program provides teens a safe and welcoming place to land in the afternoons, especially for those who are sleeping at the shelter.
“Most of them are working on acrylic paintings. We have one that is doing oil pastel, and then they’re incorporating some physical piece into their art, a few of them,” says Zandy Schmidt, a youth employment councillor with Wood’s homes.
Schmidt and co-worker Nash Epp say that many of the pieces they’ve seen so far are abstract in design with duality and growth as two central themes.
“Wood’s Homes’ mission is building good mental health and wellbeing so everyone can thrive in their community,” explains Epp.
“We can definitely see, even if they don’t have it in their head of what specifically it’s referring to, you can see that it’s really them just expressing emotion and processing what it means to them.”
Epp says the partnership with the Galt has been a positive experience for the young people involved.
“It’s so cool to be with the Galt Museum and their capacity to support this kind of program.”
Kristin Krein, Community Coordinator with the Galt, says the program is just as rewarding for the museum.
“I love supporting youth. I want confident kids who know their place,” says Krein adding that the museum hopes to offer the participants ongoing opportunities to be a part of Lethbridge in meaningful ways.
Though the program is a collaboration between Wood’s Homes and the Galt Museum, teens who do not utilize the other services of Wood’s Homes are welcome to join. The only prerequisite is an openness to exploring the meaning of mental health.
“If this is you, if you want to paint about this, if you want to create about this, there’s a place for you,” says Krein.
Currently, participants are creating works to be shown and sold at a showcase event the museum plans to host at the end of January. Community members are encouraged to join in celebrating the work of these young artists and more details of the event will be released this year year.
Young people interested in joining the group, which currently runs twice a month from 3:30 to 5 p.m. but will begin meeting weekly in January, are encouraged to contact Krein at: Kristin.Krein@galtmuseum.com