Youth Art Engagement Project (YAEP)

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Youth Art Engagement Project (YAEP)

Lower Mainland, CanadaCoquitlam, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The YAEP is a multi-session project that engages high-risk youth in social justice art creation while raising awareness about sexual exploitation.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Youth Art Engagement Project is important to our community because sexual exploitation is happening in all B.C. communities and can affect any young person regardless of their age, ability, ethnicity, gender, religion, income, geographic location or sexual orientation. Sexual exploitation leads to multiple, long-term disadvantages to the victim including addictions, disease, abuse, social stigma, trauma, barriers to future employment and education, and premature and preventable death. 13 is the average age that children reported their first experience of being sexually exploited through the sex trade.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The YAEP is a multi-session project that engages high-risk youth in the creation of an artistic project aimed at raising awareness about the issue of sexual exploitation, while fostering youth leadership and youth voice. Youth participate in nine 2-hour sessions facilitated by Facilitators who provide ongoing mentorship and guidance to participants. Each session includes one hour for activity-based learning and one hour for art experimentation and creation. This project incites leadership skills in youth that don’t usually identify as being leaders, as they may face multiple social disadvantages. Youth select the type of creative project which may take the form of a visual art piece, poem, or anything else they choose. The project will wrap up with youth sharing their project with the larger community through an art exhibition event and the creation of a youth art calendar. The purpose of showcasing the art and calendar is to celebrate the youth’s work while raising public awareness.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The YAEP is important to youth because it gives them a voice in issues that are directly affecting them. Due to the fact that high-risk youth may feel stigmatized because of past behaviour, this project provides them with a sense of belonging and an opportunity to be recognized as leaders among their peers and in community. The YAEP will build transferrable life skills such as problem solving, creativity and collaboration, which will have an enduring impact on their lives beyond their participation in the project. Given that this project heavily involves art, youth participants will also gain a multitude of skills in the process of art creation. The Canada Council for the Arts reported that “participation in the arts helps young people develop self-confidence and achieve higher academic performance”, which is important in building protective factors.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

As the leading organization in BC addressing the prevention of sexual exploitation, we’ve built a strong reputation in the community by delivering effective prevention, awareness, and early intervention programs.

Founding Story

Children of the Street Society was co-founded in 1995 by Executive Director, Diane Sowden, in collaboration with a group of parents personally affected by sexual exploitation. Diane’s daughter was recruited into a life of commercial sexual exploitation at age 13 by an older “boyfriend” who introduced her to a lifestyle of drug use. Despite a life of school, soccer and family vacations, her daughter quickly became dependent on drugs and was soon forced to sell herself to pay off her drug debts. She is still on the streets today. Our Society was created in order to PREVENT this tragedy from happening to other families.
About You
Children of the Street Society
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Children of the Street Society

Organization Country

, BC, Coquitlam

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Lower Mainland

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact


How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Equity.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

The YAEP will support youth in identifying issues facing their own school/community and provides a unique opportunity for youth to identify as leaders and create meaningful change in themselves and community. By focusing on their assets and capacities, they will develop a range of skills and protective factors, including self-esteem, confidence, and creativity. The project will engage youth 11-18, which is a critical transition time, as they are most vulnerable to exploitation during these years. This is a time when identification with positive role models and building confidence, self-esteem and healthy relationships is vital to future success, health and well-being.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

In 2011/2012, we delivered the YAEP to 4 groups of high-risk youth from Vancouver and over 40 pieces of artwork were created and displayed at our Youth Art Gallery event in June. The Gallery event was successful in sharing and celebrating the social justice artwork of youth, but also raising awareness in the community. Following the event, we are now developing a youth art calendar to be launched in the fall to further increase public awareness of sexual exploitation. In January, we trained service providers to host their own YAEP in their respective communities. We trained 30+ service providers and educators to deliver this project. Since then, they have successfully launched 3 different YAEP groups with 60+ youth and continue to receive support from us.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

Over the next five years, we intend on making the YAEP an annual project and expanding it to various communities across BC. The Youth Art Engagement Project will continue to engage groups of high-risk youth and educate them on the issue of sexual exploitation as well as empower them to create social justice art. The Youth Art Engagement Project will improve their self-esteem and critical thinking as well as develop transferrable life skills that are beneficial beyond the program. Through the education of sexual exploitation, it will also be prevented in the long-term.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Our biggest challenge in making our project successful would be sustainable funding. In order for prevention to be effective, the Youth Art Engagement Project needs multi-year support to achieve long-term impacts. From our pilot projects, we have been well received and many groups have expressed their interest in being involved. We wish to expand and reach out to more remote communities, where youth may be at a higher risk of sexual exploitation.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Prevent the sexual exploitation of children and youth

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Facilitators will go through a 6 week intensive training with our partners

Task 2

Facilitators will develop lesson plans customized for each group of high-risk youth

Task 3

Facilitators will engage 3-4 groups of high-risk youth (approx. 20-30 youth) aged 11-18 in the Lower Mainland

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Prevent the sexual exploitation of children and youth

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Increase knowledge and awareness about sexual exploitation and related social issues that are effecting youth

Task 2

Display youth art projects in final art exhibition event

Task 3

Increase public awareness through the creation of the youth art calendar

Tell us about your partnerships

Our major partners/collaborators include Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Children and Family Development; Vancouver Police Department (including VICE Unit); RCMP Integrated Child Exploitation Unit (ICE); RCMP Human Trafficking Unit; PLEA Community Services Society of BC; Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP) and local law enforcement. They provide training for our Facilitators as well as act as the appropriate contacts for resources and referrals when working with families and youth who have been sexually exploited.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

We are currently targeting high-risk youth in the Lower Mainland. Based on our extensive experience in delivering prevention and education workshops, we identified an opportunity to further engage groups of vulnerable youth in a special project. This project incites leadership skills in youth that do not usually identify as being leaders, as they may face multiple social disadvantages.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

This project is based on the success of a pilot project we facilitated in 2010 with a group of high-risk youth at a high school. Through our extensive experience working with children and youth, we recognize that high-risk youth require not only an innovative approach, but also one that celebrates their abilities, talents and potential. Our evaluations find that high-risk youth need longer-term and meaningful relationships in order to strive in their environment.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

The Youth Art Engagement Project can benefit from additional support in printing our Youth Art Calendar. The art created by youth is photographed and featured in a 16-month calendar to disseminate to our community.