Photo credit: Simon Burn
Writer: Andy Strote
Helping youth discover passion, potential and purpose
Andrew James came to Shelburne in 2015 via Mississauga and New York City. Looking for a smaller town to call home, a friend suggested Shelburne. On the day of his first visit with his wife Juli-Anne, the skies were grey and rain was pouring down… until they got to Shelburne. The clouds parted to expose brilliant sunshine. They took it as a sign and three days later put down a deposit on a house.
Shelburne is the fastest growing community in Ontario, with 30% of its population between zero and 19 years of age. For James, that was an opportunity to cater to a growing, underserved part of the community.
Inspiring youth through the arts
With a long-standing interest in working with youth, James and his wife founded Streams Community Hub. Streams is a federally incorporated not-for-profit organization that provides programs and services to enrich the local community.
“There is an immense sense of pride in the culture and heritage of the Shelburne. There is friendliness and cooperation,” said James. “But for many of our youth, there was a lack of opportunity and accessibility to the types of activities we now offer.”
Building on a successful launch
In 2017, Streams ran its first Creative Arts Summer Camp, hosting 50 children from 28 households with a focus on arts and theatre.
With the help of an Ontario Arts Council grant, the expanded 2018 program features eight one-week streams (two streams per week for four weeks): art, theatre, digital photography, computer programming, digital storytelling, circus, imaginarium, and kinder-prep for pre-kindergarten children.
The streams have been enthusiastically received with some children enrolling in multiple streams.
A clear vision for the future
For the future, James envisions a coffeehouse and community space to provide youth with arts training, skills building, volunteer opportunities, work experience and counselling.
“The vision is clear,” said James. “By connecting people, we can invest in our youth and enrich their lives through arts-centered activity and education.”