This Spring, the Elora Centre For The Arts (ECFTA) collaborated with Portage Ontario as part of their Youth Outreach Program to infuse art and mindfulness into their programming. This Youth Addiction & Recovery Program: THE HEALING POWER OF ART AND CREATIVE EXPRESSION offered creativity as the conduit for acceptance, sharing and healing. It allowed for emotional exploration, development of coping strategies and sharing the challenges of recovery.


A big thank you to the ECFTA for connecting with our determined and resilient Ontario youth in facilitating this connection with a variety of artistic mediums. One resident expressed the following: “We got to feel young, we got to feel vulnerable and we got to reflect on our creativity. The community continually built trust throughout the program.”

During this pilot program held in the ECFTA gallery and studio classroom, the youth danced, reflected on the exhibits of digital artist Gord Harris and blacksmith Sandra Dunn, collaged, used symbols to prompt insightful conversations, painted with guest artist Eileen MacArthur and developed a “map” of creative strengths.


“I have self-doubt about my art skills but the environment felt so accepting and non-judgmental that I was able to open up and try new things, without questioning the end result. I felt liberated.”


One of ECFTA’s primary goals is to be relevant and create impact within our community.  They ask… “How can Arts and Creativity help fill that need in a meaningful way?” One of the identified needs was youth addiction. By offering the space and opportunity for creativity and imagination, there is a valuable component to the journey of recovery for adolescents in their drug rehabilitation program.


 “Youth recovering from addiction have faced so many traumas in their lives, which have been further compounded by the societal stigma that comes when someone is deemed an addict. The result is a young person left feeling marginalized and isolated from their community. This project will welcome Portage residents with open arms, allowing them to develop and explore their creativity in a supported environment.”

If you’d like to learn more about the ECFTA, please visit their website https://eloracentreforthearts.ca/.

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