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Yuva Arts Project is a collaborative arts-based exchange program aimed at addressing issues related to displacement and integration faced by marginalised and vulnerable youth populations across the world. Using arts as a medium, we provide space for youth to share their stories, explore social challenges that they experience, as well as possible solutions.

The Yuva Arts team, founded by Tamara Menon, comprises of music students. Yuva Arts, together with Multicultural Theatre Space, a theatre company and charity based in Kitchener-Waterloo partnered with Prerana, an anti-trafficking organisation based in Mumbai, India. Various community organisations and artists such as the Reception House/Community Justice Initiatives, Healing of the Seven Generations, Neruda Arts, Gary Diggins, Inshallah Choir, Dr. Gerard Yun and Dr. Colin Lee were also our collaborators.

In May 2019, three youth groups (aged 12-15) participated in our two-week exchange, including children of commercially sexually exploited women from India, Canadian indigenous youth and newcomer youth in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada. The three youth groups used creative arts to communicate, build understanding and friendship, while addressing various global issues of their interest. The exchange offered a series of workshops that focused on general themes such as identity, leadership and self-worth including music therapy sessions, collaborative music-making workshops, sound therapy, Arpillera craft workshops, Moccasin craft workshops, Spirit-Painting workshops, Haudenosaunee social events and collaborative theatre workshops, led by the professional community artists and organisations mentioned above. The two-week program concluded with a final celebration at Forest Heights Community Center in Kitchener-Waterloo as a means of sharing their learnings and successes through cultural presentations and displaying their collaborative work.

Yuva Arts Project facilitates the development of global engagement, global activism, community involvement and inclusion, all in the hopes of creating an international perspective for all individuals involved in our project. Yuva Arts also addresses and raises awareness of various areas of injustice and challenges faced by youth across the world. This has turned out to be a great opportunity for volunteers and community partners to build awareness, sensitivity, acceptance, and appreciation of diverse cultures surrounding them.

Our goal is to build leaders so that, not only will youth strive for an enriching future for themselves, but also for their communities.

Meet Prema, our Yuva participant from Mumbai, India: http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_lXrQ1FvSg&t=99s