Urban Promise beginnings
One of the organizations that really built my understanding of social justice as well as sparked this desire to partner with local communities is Urban Promise Toronto. Their mission is to partner with a child for 18 years, walking with them as they grow up in government housing. Having lived in the Toronto suburbs, I was sheltered from many of the social issues that my city experiences. I distinctly remember how volunteering for a week and then a summer and then as a staff changed my lens of the world.
It was the first time that I saw people who everyday loved and fought for the children and youth they lived life with. It was the first time I saw what living in Toronto could be like for people in government housing or whose family struggled with addiction, poverty, and violence. It was also the first time I saw genuine community, the Church, and youth mentorship looked like.
That summer, I had gotten a grant from the government to create an arts-education summer program for the kids. We learned different techniques about photography and at the end of summer, we had a photography gallery during Community Night. This was also the first time I saw that if you have a creative idea and want to do something good, people (in high places even) want to join and support your vision! It completely changed my perspective in the power of social action and creativity!
This summer, I was so excited to be able to come back to where my social justice journey first started to support and do some art workshops for their kids.
Even after all these years, I encountered the same community workers and people who continue to advocate and show Jesus’ love for their kids.
Barefoot Love was more than happy to help create their annual calendar given to UP supporters. Through our collaboration together, their kids were given the freedom to create. They were coached a little on colour and texture, and then released to paint their own interpretation of the summer camp theme: “Broken Crayons Still Colour.”