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Art for the young (and young at heart)

January 8th, 2018

Image by the AGO.

When residents of Castleview Wychwood Towers in Toronto sat down with a team of Youth Art Ambassadors for an artmaking experience, they weren’t sure what to expect. It didn’t seem like much –some calligraphy ink, yarn and markers. But connections made on both sides of the age divide were transformative. Welcome to the AGO’s Youth Art Ambassador Program.

Under the AGO’s Access to Art initiative, we recently teamed up with the City of Toronto Long-Term Care Homes & Services for a three-year pilot program, supported by The Elia Family. Part of this pilot, the Youth Art Ambassador Program, trains youth volunteers age 14–25 to become Art Ambassadors, so they can lead artmaking experiences for residents and clients of long-term care homes and supportive housing sites.

Resident, Untitled, Fudger House.

Resident, Untitled, Carefree Lodge.

“Community-based arts programming helps older people—as the keepers of culture—remain dynamic members of society and provides younger generations with positive role models and connections to the past,” said Melissa Smith, Coordinator of the AGO’s Access to Art Program. “These types of intergenerational relationships are so important because they encourage a strong sense of meaning and purpose for everyone involved.”

The Youth Art Ambassadors attend a full-day workshop at the AGO, where they learn how to talk about art and deliver artmaking activities specifically developed for seniors. As one participant said, “I learned many tips and details to pay attention to as a volunteer while doing arts and crafts with the seniors. Also, being able to try some of the activities and learn some of the problems we might encounter was very useful.”

A resident and Youth Art Ambassador participating in Access to Art.

Take a peek into the artmaking process through a video produced by the Youth Art Ambassadors at Castleview Wychwood Towers!

Want to see the art in person? We have it on display in our Concourse Level Community Gallery until April 22. Don’t miss it!

For more information about the program, contact

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