Unionville students paint portraits of kindness

A group of Unionville students has created art with heart that’s sure to bring smiles to the faces of kids in Haiti, who have faced unimaginable challenges and may have few personal items to call their own.

Grade 10 arts program students at Unionville High School created and donated portraits to 28 youth as part of Memory Project, a non-profit organization that invites art teachers and their students to create portraits for youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents and extreme poverty.

“We want the portraits to help the children feel valued and important, to know that many people care about their well-being and to act as meaningful pieces of personal history in the future,” the Memory Project website explains.

The organization receives photos of children and teens from global charities operating residential homes, school and care centres in a number of different countries every year. It then provides participating art teachers with full-page colour prints as well as digital copies of those photos, along with plastic sleeves to protect the finished portraits.

The art teachers then work with their students to create the portraits and Memory Project representatives hand deliver them to the kids. Unionville is one of five Ontario schools participating this year. The project allows students to learn kindness and global awareness while enhancing their portraiture skills.

“This year, I really wanted to broaden my search for subjects and challenge my students to connect with those that may not live a life as privileged as their own,” said Wendy Gardham, Unionville High School visual arts teacher. “As part of the Arts Unionville program, the students have already learned the proportions of the face and have completed a 3D clay bust sculpture and the intent of the current portraiture project is to enhance their skill with watercolour techniques. I felt the collaboration with the Memory Project would be one of the best ways to showcase their skills while giving back.”

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