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Overview

YouthVisions, a school-community art partnership program (1994-2005), is in the process of becoming Canada's premier online youth art gallery. According to its founder, Marc Pelech, "YouthVisions is a highly enriched visual arts program that seeks to establish a positive youth presence within the community."

The basic plan was to take student art from the little-seen walls of high school and showcase it to the public. This modest goal has evolved into a comprehensive strategy for breaking down barriers between youth and the community, inventing a civic stakeholder role for youth artists, and creating a youth art legacy unique to Surrey.

YouthVision's success is largely due to augmenting classroom-based theory with community/business focused projects. Through partnerships, students are able to tackle initiatives that address real community needs or have important social objectives. They learn about artist-client relationships, design process, and how to efficiently use time-task management skills. As such, the students have raised the bar for artistic standards by meeting or exceeding all expectations for this age group. This has strengthened their resolve to consistently produce art worthy of public display.

YouthVisions projects center on such themes as environmentalism, heritage, multiculturalism, public safety, social justice and wellness. By focusing on important topics as these, youth became self-empowered advocates for social change.

YouthVisions students have enjoyed numerous opportunities to work collaboratively and to improve their communication skills. The fact that they present their concepts to each other, as well as to community groups and business partners, encourages them to deal effectively with constructive criticism and to commit themselves to a continuous process of self-improvement. As such, YouthVisions had a remarkable influence on shaping the lives of a generation of highly enterprising young people. It is little wonder that YouthVisions students enjoy success in in college admissions (over 60)-most notably, a large number being accepted and graduating from the prestigious Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design.

It is our hope that the overview will provide the reader with insight into YouthVisions guiding philosophy and its innovative approaches. We have highlighted some of the most successful Youth Visions projects and provided information regarding the successful implementation of school-community/business partnerships. We include suggestions to assist communities and institutions to build from the YouthVisions experience and also share some of our future plans. Viewers are strongly encouraged to preview the website's video featuring interviews with some of the key players involved throughout the programs history.

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