For the past four years, Youth Voices [Note 1] worked with Deer Crossing the Art Farm (Gibsons BC) on an initiative to raise awareness of the need to provide meaningful participation and voice to kids experiencing parental separation. On May 25, 2023, this partnership launched “Seen and Heard” – both a physical art installation and a digital platform for children and young people to tell their stories .
For four days, the art installation was located in the plaza outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery, near to the BC Provincial and Supreme courthouses. It presented two colourful little houses, each of which explored a child’s experience using light, shadow and artwork. The concept of “home” is fundamental in this context. Many kids have experienced life with “two homes” as a result of parental separation; others move to a new/different home. Often, the kids have no input into these important decisions directly affecting their lives.
The houses were created through a joint creative partnership between the Art Farm and members of the Youth Voices leadership group. They led to many wonderful conversations with passersby of all ages about the impact of divorce on families and their children. We also offered a link to the digital platform and encouraged young people to tell the story of their experience (anonymously) online.
We believe change will happen when we genuinely seek, hear and act on kids’ experience and perspectives.
While the launch event is over, we hope that the two little houses will be on display at future events, conferences, festivals etc. If you or your organization are interested, or if you have suggestions, please reach out to me at email@example.com.
In the meantime, take a moment and check out the digital platform and read the stories already published. We are so grateful to the Art Farm and the courageous young people who have participated to date.
Note 1: Youth Voices is an initiative of the BC Family Justice Innovation Lab. You can find out more about Youth Voices on Instagram and Twitter (@youth_voices_bc).