Students Wow Donors and Volunteers with Media and Artwork

February 6th, 2014

At Youville Centre, we sincerely appreciate our generous volunteers, donors and community partners. Without their help and support, we would simply be unable to continue to motivate, educate and nurture our young mothers and their children at the level of service that we provide. This year, to show our appreciation, our students organized a very special Media Festival event.

Student C and board and video

Embrace board

The first of its kind in Youville history, this event allowed students to display their artwork, scrapbooks, mixed media pieces and digital films produced from the Me, My Baby, Our World (MMBOW) parenting course and the EMBRACE Your Future course (EMBRACE = Empower, Motivate, Build Resiliency, Role Model, Advocate, Communicate, Educate). Both courses are linked to credits, helping our students get closer to graduation as they learn important life skills. Executive Director Cindy Simpson launched the event by thanking our volunteers, donors and community partners, and then proudly introducing our hardworking students.

Cindy introduces studentsFollowing Cindy’s introduction, students from each class (MMBOW and EMBRACE) described the course content and shared their learning experiences. Felicia, seen below in her EMBRACE Your future t-shirt, expressed her thoughts on the course:

“This EMBRACE Your Future class has been amazing for me. It has taught me to always value myself and that negative self-talk can be hurtful. This class has made me feel more confident that if I just put my mind to something it can be accomplished and to always follow my dreams. I feel more confident in being a mother and dealing with everyday struggles.”

Students introduce videosAfter the introductions, guests were invited to tour the hallway to look at the scrapbooks,  and to visit each classroom where artwork and videos were on display. Each student stood beside her work of art, whether it was a video or a scrapbook, so that guests could interact with her and talk about her experiences.

In the hallwayScrapbooks are an essential component of the United Way-funded Me, My Baby, Our World parenting course. During circle time, photos of moms and babies are taken by our staff and printed out immediately. In the second half of the class, students work on their scrapbooks using the photos taken during circle time. These photos show the bonding and attachment that is occurring between mom and baby, and they provide a visual history of the progress the young moms and children are making in the course. Inside the scrapbooks, moms write  birth stories, descriptions of their child’s personality, and letters to their child to accompany the photos and artwork.

Skylah scrapbookGuests thoroughly enjoyed the videos from the EMBRACE course. The students created these videos using iMovie software and with the help of volunteer Tesni Ellis, a graduate student at York University who has been a great help to us in the past year.

Each video was set to music and included voice-over from our young moms as they read letters to their child and made promises to them to always be there for them and protect them as they grow. In her voiceover, one of our young moms, Jordann, expressed the following to her daughter:

“Let me tell you something baby girl I will always be here for you no matter the time, place or the distance between us, when you need me I will fight and find a way to get to you at any time of day. I want you to know that you changed my life for the better. You taught me I can do anything I set my mind to as long as I work hard, it all pays off.”

Volunteers enjoy the videosOur young moms were so proud to share their videos with the donors, volunteers and community partners. The inspirational videos even caused a few happy tears to flow.

Student F interacts with donors and volunteers

Closeup of work on boardThis event was planned completely by the students themselves. It was a unique opportunity for our young moms to share their work with those who support them, and the guests left the event feeling proud of, and inspired by the love our students showed toward themselves and their children through their artwork and media presentations.

Without the following donors and volunteers, these programs would not be possible:

Me, My Baby, Our World:

  • United Way Ottawa
  • Walton Developments
  • TD Canada Trust
  • City of Ottawa Lemieux Island Water Purification Plant
  • Mr. David Bennett
  • His Excellency, Governor General of Canada David Johnston and Her Excellency Mrs. Sharon Johnston who donated to our Lending Library

EMBRACE Your Future:

  • TELUS Ottawa Community Board
  • The Martel Alliance
  • Tesni Ellis
  • Ottawa Police Services
  • Sexual Assault Support Centre
  • United Way Ottawa – Project s.t.e.p.
  • The Ministry of Children & Youth Services (MCYS)

Special thanks to the 25+ volunteers who give the gift of time to our young moms and their children through daily acts of volunteerism in our childcare, swap shop and administrative offices. In the words of Skylah, one of our students in the Me, My Baby, Our World program, the students thank you:

“We are grateful to the committed, caring group of volunteers from the community who give their time and talent to our children and us. The contributions of our ‘Volunteer Family’ make it easier for us to manage our family’s lives and focus on our school work.”