By RON FANFAIR
While at the Youth Day creative arts festival at Dundas Square last July, Deangela Provo picked up a flyer from the Toronto Fashion Academy (TFA) booth advertising a one-month summer youth fashion initiative.
With funding from Pro Action Cops & Kids which is the largest private funder of Toronto Police Service programs for young people, Sergeant Tiffany Castell partnered with the TFA to provide workshops to 20 city youths between the ages of 11 and 17.
“This is a youth project that’s super unique because most of the Pro Action sponsored events have to do with sports and cooking,” she said. “Most kids are not getting exposure to express their creativity, so this is an opportunity for them to get some formalized training.”
TFA chief executive officer Jason Cameron jumped at the opportunity to help young people gain confidence, build a professional network and portfolio, secure access to industry professionals, become career focused and feel a sense of purpose and motivation.
“Julie Goodfellow is one of our board members and a teacher with the Toronto District School Board,” he said. “One of her students was murdered and another one overdosed. That hit home for me and I decided that we at the academy had to do something and provide opportunities for youths who are facing peer pressure and other challenges in life. When we were introduced to Tiffany through one of our members, we started knocking heads to see what will work and this is what we came up with.”
The young people attended four six-hour workshops on Sunday afternoons last month. They engaged in photography, modelling and designing workshops and did a fashion shoot at the Toyota on Front car dealership.
Provo, a Grade Eight student at Lord Dufferin Junior & Senior Public School, said she relished the experience.
“I learned there are so many aspects to fashion,” the Dixon Hall dance group member said. “What I enjoyed the most, however, was making candy shirts. Me and my partner (11-year-old Scarlett McArthur) used lollipop sticks and wrappers. That was a fun activity. It was also very cool today to see the police officers in uniform.”
Stephanie Wiafe, Provo’s mother, said her daughter benefitted from the creative exposure.
“She discovered things other than dance which she loves,” said Wiafe. “The fashion workshop will help with her colour co-ordination.”
Grade 10 student, Keyonna Evelyn-Hamle, enjoyed working with different groups of people and being in the presence of police officers.
“The officers are cool and the whole experience was awesome,” the Loretta Abbey Catholic Secondary School student said.
Several officers assisted Castell during the program. They included 51 Division Constables Kimberly Kelly, Crispin Barnes, Amy Beckles and Paul Walker and 22 Division Constable Kathlin Seremetkovski.