Over the last 7 months I have had the pleasure of being involved in a joint collaborative effort between Pathways CSA and the Freed Artist Society known as the Hip Hop program for youth. Over this period of time I’ve had the pleasure to witness some inspirational young people take huge strides in their expressive and personal development. This is not just limited to youth, - myself, adults, volunteers and community members have embraced the teachings and experiences that this program provides.

The first semester of programming was concentrated on building/equipping youth with the tools and confidence needed to share their experiences through the arts and 4 elements of Hip Hop. These elements include DJ (Turntable), MC (Rapping), Graffiti (visual arts), and Break dancing (expression through movement).  Many youth have used many of these elements to tell their stories and express their hopes and dreams moving forward.

Every Thursday evening participants spend 2.5 hrs with artists, volunteers and staff building on these skills of expression. Some youth have told us that our program provides the one place they can come every week and feel safe to share their art and ideas. We also blend Aboriginal culture into the programing with weekly talking circles and smudging as well as community Elders who visit the program.

In early April 2016, we were able to participate in the unveiling of the video project created by Morley First Nations ReFreshed Crew youth during Juno Week celebrations. Our group was given their own conference space and stage to share a performance and meal with Canadian hip hop legend Kardinal Official.

What the youth didn’t know was that Music Canada, in partnership with TD bank, were presenting the program with $20,000 worth of new equipment, including brand new recording equipment, turntables, mixer boards, speakers, and wireless mic’s.  Calgary’s mayor, the Hon. Naheed Nenshi, even payed the group a visit to congratulate the program and its participants. 

We as a group are currently winding down our final sessions before summer break and are creating a video concept of our own. We are hoping to host a Block Party video presentation by mid-summer (stay tuned for that announcement).

All youth involved in the program will have the opportunity to share what they’ve created on this multimedia video concept, and will be presented a copy at its completion.

Our hip hop program has been a wonderful, uplifting experience for those involved and we hope to foster this great collaboration moving forward so that we may serve many more youth and families.

Written by Chris - Pathways CSA youth worker and hip-hop program facilitator 

ReFreshed Crew video highlighted during Juno Week Celebrations:

Funding for Pathways CSA's hip hop programming in generously provided by the Collaborative Funder's Table

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