“Talent develops in quiet places, character in the full current of human life.” -Goethe
Below is a piece entitled “Mufasa” by a member of our Passion 4 Youth program.
On a typical Thursday night the art room can be a little loud, and more often than not it is just plain chaotic. Twenty-or-so youth are busy creating art pieces, playing music and catching up with friends – so it’s bound to be lively. Among this chaos, James can be found sitting quietly and works on a painting, or floating around the room peering over other’s shoulders. He doesn’t speak much and often responds to questions with a simple one word answer. It would be easy to miss such a quiet boy among the chaos that can happen in the art room.
James is an example of Ottawa’s invisible homeless youth population. He is often “couch hopping”, or staying in some sort of “insecure housing”. James is not homeless in the stereotypical sense, in that he is not sleeping on a sidewalk or under a bridge. But he, like many youth in Ottawa, does not have a secure place to call home. Staying at someone’s home, or in a flop-house, is no safer than staying on the streets; there is a transient and unstable quality to it.
Despite his introverted personality, James is always creating vibrant art pieces. As soon as he touched a pen to paper, we were able to see his creative spirit bursting forth. He is an incredible artist who is able to put his wild imagination into his art.
In many ways James is the kind of person who gets overlooked, as a shy introvert, and as a member of Ottawa’s hidden homeless population. Seeing him with his peers and among the P4Y mentors we have had a chance to see what a positive impact being noticed can bring. Though he is slowly appearing from his shell, we appreciate all the little glimpses of his personality we see through his art.