Celebrating Art and the Importance of Youth Mentorship at Latitude 53

Latitude 53 has been home to local artists and community events since 1973, providing an inviting space for connection and creativity. Tucked away between Grant MacEwan University and bustling Jasper Avenue, we were all still feeling the love from Valentine’s Day as a full room of influencers, artists and innovators came together to learn more about Big Brothers and Sisters on February 15. As part of the ongoing EOCC Community events, people from all segments of Edmonton’s thriving culture were in attendance, from business owners and artists to investors and entrepreneurs. Kelly Xiao of Edmonton’s chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters was there to speak about the work they do as well as volunteer opportunities.

Big Brothers and Sisters works with volunteers in communities all over the world to connect with youth and inspire the next generation of leaders in a safe and empowering way. BBBS began in Edmonton in 2011 and continues to provide various volunteer roles working with youth. We learned kids who take part in BBBS are 80% more likely to graduate, have increased confidence, higher grades and class attendance. As a volunteer, the choice is yours to work one on one with a child, volunteer in groups or work behind the scenes to support fundraisers, help with office work and more.

As we perused the fine selection of art from local talents like Katie Cunningham, Sofia Jogola, Omar the Artist, Chad Raymo and Jolene, the connection between these artists and the cause was palpable. Encouraging children to follow their passions, whether that is art or otherwise, is such a valuable way to create a more vibrant, inclusive and safe world for us all. The colourful and thought-provoking pieces served as a reminder of potential. Each work of art began as a blank canvas and blossomed into something fully formed and beautiful. Working with youth in a healthy and nurturing environment is key to inspire the confidence they need to become whatever they choose to be.

While the DJ spun tunes in the background, we networked, discussed art and grew our sense of community and why it’s always important to lift each other up, especially our younger community members.

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If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer with the Edmonton chapter of Big Brothers and Big Sisters, apply here.