I first heard about DAREarts from a friend who was in the program. She invited me to her showcase. I was so blown away by the performances, from the dances to speeches to theatre. You could just tell that they were so proud of what they had accomplished and what they were sharing with the world. When it was my friend’s performance, I saw her face light up in a way I’ve never seen before. As she danced across the stage, she exuded confidence and grace. I was so inspired by her that I knew from that moment on I wanted to be apart of this special group.
I was really nervous as I climbed onto a bus full of people, all strangers to me. But I saw the twinkle in their eyes, making face-to-face connections. I realized that we were all there for one reason; to find and be the best version of yourself that you can be. They may have been strangers when I arrived, but we soon became friends. All having one thing in common, DAREarts was solace for all of us. Regardless of the things that we thought separated us, we were one in the same. We were taught that our fear, our fight and our love was what defined us, and I believe all three drove us to the program in the first place.
I felt like everyday in the program, I was taught something new and valuable. Regardless of if I was scared to do something, all of the days pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a positive way. This made me realize that I was capable of so much more than I gave myself credit for.
When I first entered the program, I was a shy girl initially. As a result of the positive encouragement and love I received from the teachers at DAREarts, I was able to feel comfortable trying new things that I maybe wasn’t necessarily great at. At DAREarts, mistakes were encouraged, as only through making mistakes where you find what you are truly capable of and able to build upon that. They made it a safe place to explore the various aspects of myself.
A couple of years after I had graduated DAREarts, I had joined an organization called Ontario Nature. I had attended their Youth Summit for Biodiversity and Environmental Leadership. It had given me an outlet to demonstrate the values I learned at DAREarts, with an environmental spin. From there, I joined their Youth Council and became an active member, involving myself with provincial-wide nature projects. From there, I was introduced to a new way to create change, climate strikes. Not long after, I founded a strike organization in my community, Fridays for Futures Scarborough, where we organize seasonal strikes and create environmental action-based projects in my community. All of these activities were very life altering, as I feel I have found my passion and true calling in life as a result. So much so, that I look forward to going to Trent University in September for Conservation Biology.
Both the Ontario Nature Youth Council, as well as the Fridays for Future Scarborough encourages leadership, responsibility as well as self-confidence. These are all very much aligned with the DAREarts core values. They also encourage an inherent responsibility for the planet.
Failure and a growth mindset in my daily life was a very important step for me in becoming an independent thinker. It has helped me to learn better and be successful in school, as growth is so important in holistic learning. When it comes to tackling projects in my personal and environmental life, just beginning the project seems to be the most important and challenging step. In order to start, the first step requires a great deal of faith in oneself. That is something DAREarts has very much taught me, to be unforgivably myself. Even in my relationships, having faith in myself and learning from my mistakes have made a profound impact, leading to meaningful and positive connections in my daily life.
We’re thankful for the ongoing support of TD in making stories like Delenn’s possible.