Making the connection between media arts, social justice and substance use prevention

Video production. Photography. Audio arts. Graphic design. Comics and zines. Print journalism. Instrumental music. Music recording. New media. Web design. What’s the connection between these varied forms of media arts and substance use prevention? One only has to look to Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre and its well-recognized work with youth in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood to answer this question!

Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre is a not-for-profit organization affiliated with CAMH. It was set up in 1989 with funding from Ontario’s provincial anti-drug strategy, and has been using media arts as a tool to engage youth from racialized and marginalized communities in creating change.

Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre provides youth with a safe space, tools, and mentors to explore their identities, voice their experiences, create their own narratives of self, and imagine alternative futures. Through media arts, youth explore and express themselves on complex issues that affect their lives and health, such as poverty, gangs and violence, racism, and gender inequality.

The communal media-making practices used at Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre support youth to produce resources that are insightful and that challenge dominant ideas and mainstream media perceptions about who they are. The youth also contribute to their community by sharing their projects at presentations, film screenings, live pod casts, and as a learning tool for schools and community groups.

Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre is dedicated to nurturing youth leadership. The youth artists-in-residence become natural mentors to newer participants and take an active role in decision-making and leadership. The driving force behind this structural framework is the centre’s ability to foster within participants a feeling that their contributions are important and that they can be agents of change in their lives and in their communities.

Learn more about Regent Park Focus Media Arts Centre.  Watch Regent Park TV.