The Koffler Centre of the Arts, in collaboration with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital – Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital, dedicated to improving the lives of kids with disabilities – engaged in an arts-based public engagement program alongside selected Youth Leaders to examine issues of identity, resilience & diversity of voice.
Inspired by the Koffler Gallery’s winter exhibition, Nicole Collins: Furthest Boundless, nine participants (ages 18-26) created individual & collaborative projects that explored their transition from pediatric care to the adult health care system. Similar to Nicole Collins' examination of frailty & resilience in her work, the Youth Leaders were encouraged to respond to the many challenges & opportunities that lay ahead in the next stage of adulthood. For everyone, age 18 played an important role in their journey.
Over a four week workshop process, participants shared studio space alongside local artists/facilitators (Nicole Collins, Jeff Dywelska, Mariah Hamilton & Kate Welsh) to articulate their personal narratives & experiences through a collaborative creation process, using various media such as paint, sculpture, photography & text. Each week Youth Leaders contributed to the collective exhibition through collaborative-based art practices, which in turn, created an inclusive & dynamic space for dialogue & (re)interpretation.
PARTICIPANTS | Lexin, Samantha, Nikoletta, Sinéad, Kate, Effie, Alexandra, Alanna, Julia
PROJECT LEAD | Mary Anderson
LAST NIGHT I DIDN’T GET MUCH SLEEP AT ALL. I HAD THIS CRAZY NIGHTMARE THAT THERE WAS A THERAPEUTIC CLOWN CHASING ME IN A HOSPITAL. MY HEART WAS BEATING REALLY FAST AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN A REALLY LOUD ALARM CLOCK WOKE ME AND I REALIZED IT WAS MY 18TH BIRTHDAY...
MY TRANSITION FROM PEDIATRIC CARE TO ADULT CARE WAS A MIXTURE OF TWO FEELINGS; EXCITING AND WEIRD. IT WAS EXCITING BECAUSE I WAS MOVING ON TO A NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE, WHICH MEANT I WAS TAKING CHARGE OF MY LIFE A LOT MORE. THE TRANSITION WAS ALSO WEIRD BECAUSE THERE WAS A ONE YEAR GAP BETWEEN GETTING DISCHARGED AND MEETING MY NEW TEAM OF HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS, AND I DIDN’T KNOW IF THERE WAS ANY CHANCE OF MEETING THEM SOONER IF SOMETHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY WAS TO HAPPEN.
...MY 18TH BIRTHDAY – THE DAY I HAD LONG DREADED HAD ARRIVED. ON THE ONE HAND IT MEANT I COULD VOTE, BUT ON THE OTHER HAND IT MEANT SO MUCH WAS GOING TO BE CHANGING FOR ME. THAT CHANGE WAS GOING TO BE ALL VERY WEIRD AND EXCITING AT THE SAME TIME. BUT I JUST HAD TO TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME. WHEN DID 18 MEAN ADULTHOOD? WHEN DID 18 MEAN YOU’RE AN ADULT? WHAT WERE ALL OF THESE EMOTIONS RUNNING THROUGH MY HEAD? HOW DIFFERENT ARE THINGS GOING TO BE NOW THAT EVERY DECISION LIES IN MY HANDS? I DIDN’T REALIZE THERE WAS SO MUCH RESPONSIBILITY. I DIDN'T FEEL FULLY PREPARED FOR THE MANY THINGS THAT WERE GOING TO BE DIFFERENT.
Transitions are stories of growth and change; some are smooth and slow, and others are abrupt and disjointed. I wanted to represent my transition to adulthood as a journey that started out as a single path which at one distinct point broke apart into individual and distinct pieces. I realize that this journey is not just limited to the experience of my transition through the healthcare system, but also that of adolescence and adulthood more generally.
My transition from the pediatric health care system was not only poorly facilitated, but extremely traumatic. Growing up in the hospital, I was unable to separate my home life and hospital life. After a few years, I wanted to create something that shows what a day in my life looks like now that I have had time to cope and change my perspective. I also wanted to show what it is like to live with and manage a rare disease/chronic illness in a health care system that isn’t set up for someone like myself, yet still lead a fulfilling and “normal” life despite the challenges I continue to face on a daily basis.
I wanted to showcase my day to day life living with hearing aids and how different locations correlate with different sound levels from my perspectives. I feel I am representing my journey from pediatrics to adult care as a way of accepting my disability for what it is in comparison to always shying away from showing it to the world. One thing I hope people take away from seeing my work is despite how you feel about a difference in your life, never be afraid or embarrassed of it and always embrace it as part of who you are.