Nearly 300 children, the majority of them in Scarborough, have become “Precious Gems” in 2017, thanks to Aileen Hill’s “artsmazing” brainchild. Facilitated at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre – and partnered or collaborating with the City of Toronto, local schools, companies including David’s Tea, and organizations such as Unity Charity – the Precious Gems Project is a not-for-profit that offers young people a chance to express their creativity learning artistic techniques ranging from painting to pottery to photography, and to build self-confidence.
“I love seeing the impact on the kids who participate in our programs. Whether they arrive shy and quiet, or chatty and playful, there is always a noticeable impact when they express themselves creatively…We ask our ‘gems’ to write a paragraph about why they want to attend our program, and we check back afterward to find out about their experience. They share about making new friends, improving their art skills and learning something while having fun! When I see their increased confidence and growth, I’m inspired and motivated to keep providing opportunities for self-expression for youth.”