Twenty-two youth raised more than $2,100 for their leadership group by auctioning off nearly two dozen art pieces designed by themselves and other local artists.
Teenagers from VOCYL, which stands for Victoria Opportunities for Community Youth Leadership, held a silent art auction on April 26, showcasing 23 pieces of artwork, including a chair decorated with inspirational quotes. The money raised from the auction will go toward sustaining the program, which encourages youth to welcome and support each other.
“Our main philosophy is that everybody has the right to belong,” said program co-ordinator Tracy Lemke. “It provides an opportunity for them to have an inclusive environment where they can learn leadership skills.
“They take what they’ve learned and they go out into the community, mainly middle schools, and do inclusion awareness presentations to challenge the students to be more welcoming.”
In addition to the $2,100, the youth were presented with a cheque for $7,500 from Telus for the program. VOCYL is currently funded by donations from Telus, the Victoria Foundation, Coast Capital Savings and the Victoria Real Estate Board. Prestige Picture Framing also provided $800 in framing for free for the event.
“That money enables us to do the presentations in the schools and communities to share the message of inclusion and belonging,” said Lemke, noting the youth do about 75 presentations a year.
“They get to share their personal stories at these presentations. They just send a challenge to the students. You don’t have to be best friends with everybody in your class, but treating people with respect and kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life.”