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Kids knocking down barriers through their art (5 photos)

The fence, transformed from a barrier into a way 'to connect and build new and better relations' by Grade 2 students at Chris Hadfield Public School.

Ever since the classroom visit of Michele Newton and artist Angela Francis, as part of the ‘Making Change’ Art Engagement Program for Black History Month, Correna Glassford’s Grade 2 students at Chris Hadfield Public School have been busy.

They have working hard to create a work of art that can break down barriers, and help create a more inclusive community.

The Making Change program encouraged the students to come up with ideas, words and images to express the concepts of community, friendship, family, peace, and love.

Then they were challenged to use those concepts to create original artwork – artwork powerful enough to ‘Make Change’ in their own community.

Glassford’s class found the inspiration for a class project in a book.

“I have been reading various books to the students, but a particular one struck a chord with me. It’s called ‘The Other Side of the Fence’ (by Jacqueline Woodson). It generated great questions and answers regarding “Who is ‘other’,” Glassford explained in an email.

Through their questions, the students came to recognize “we re all one, there is no ‘other,’ as friends, family, love and community cross all barriers,” she said.

Teacher and students decided to paint a long fence, then outline each student, and place them sitting on the fence, as in Woodson’s book. The students will color themselves in, holding the artwork they created individually during the Making Change Art Engagement Program. 

“The fence became the metaphor for tearing down mental barriers we have from past fears,” Glassford wrote – instead, turning the fence into a gathering place “to connect and build new and better relations.”

It has been a big project, but one that the whole Grade 2 class has worked on “tirelessly,” Glassford said.

The kids have also written in their journals, talked about what it means to break down barriers, discussed metaphors and similes, and painted together – transforming their ideas into art.

The completed work on display up in Barrie, as part of a “Making Change” Art exhibition at the Barrie City Hall Rotunda, opening March 2.  

“I think the fence represents, now, a place of family, love, community, peace and friendship,” Glassford noted – inviting the community to come up and see for themselves. 



Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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