Students at Burnaby North Secondary are getting ready for the first ever cross-district art exhibit for youth with diverse needs.

The professionally installed exhibition, Building a Better Tomorrow Through Art: I Can, is being held in Vancouver at the Roundhouse during BC Youth Week from May 3-7. It features work from 12 schools, including from the New Westminster and Vancouver school districts, which were invited to join the project.

The idea for the collaborative community exhibition came from Judy Chiao who teaches at Burnaby North’s Access Program, which is one of the places where students with diverse abilities come together.

“We wanted to create and build a platform for our students with diverse needs that will support visibility within our community. The wall to feeling appreciated and seen is just a little bit higher for these kids and having this kind of opportunity not only provides a meaningful experience for them, but also shows the community that these students have something really special to offer.”

The excitement has been building for months, as the students have been working on creating the art and exploring different learning opportunities along the way. Chiao says each piece is as unique as its creator.

“Not all students have the fine motor skills to hold a paintbrush, so our team came up with creative ways to modify tools to give them the freedom to express themselves. We raided the science department for droppers, some students used spray bottles and others even used a hairdryer. By providing these supports, every single student was able to create something that showcases their choice and voice.”

Collages, multi-medium paintings, sculptures, and even soft toy design and puppets form the collection of work by the students ages 13-19 from the three school districts.

The Roundhouse brought together visual artists and technicians for the installation. Using professional lighting, they are transforming the exhibition hall into a curated art gallery that shines a light on not only the art, but the talents of these students and the gifts that they have to share with the community.

Learn how to see the exhibit

This story has been reproduced with permission from School District 41 (Burnaby). The original posting can be found here.