This year's AYE (A Youth Explosion) turned out to be a success! Despite COVID-19 restrictions, we were able to pull off an amazing event. AYE is our annual event where youth in Treaty 7 have the opportunity to share their stories. Whether that be through art, dance, poetry, song etc. Youth create space together with Bridges to share their stories and highlights just how important every single person's story really is.
I had the opportunity to share my story at AYE in 2019 where I shared poetry. It changed my whole perspective about myself and how I was able to overcome one of my worst fears: public speaking. This year I got to share a short film titled “Dear Friend” that is based off my poem I made and shared in 2019 that focuses on my struggles with anxiety and mental health. I also got to be a part of organizing and helping youth through the BYLT Team (Bridges Youth Leadership Team)! BYLT is a group of Indigenous youth leaders who support and engage youth with leadership skills while planning, leading and strengthening AYE. My role was to support the youth that were sharing at the event, helping them find parts of their story they wanted to highlight and organizing our AYE Prep workshops.
This year AYE went through a few challenges. Because of COVID, we couldn’t all meet in person to go through rehearsals and share that experience of just being together. The filming of the event was a bit challenging as we did not have a big camera crew, however we had lots of help from the youth. We pre-recorded each youth’s stories and performances and it was all compiled into one video that was shared at the Grey Eagle Drive In! 10 amazing youth shared their stories and inspired so many. Some shared their stories through rap, piano, short films, dance and more! Each youth that chooses to share their story at AYE impacts and inspires another youth and I think that ripple effect is an amazing part of the event.
Watch this year's AYE video - click here!
Some advice I would give to those youth that are thinking about sharing their story is that it may feel scary to be vulnerable with yourself and with others, but your stories are important and deserve to be heard. You may be able to help others by sharing, and you may be able to help yourself by taking that brave next step and truly knowing your story.
If you are a youth thinking about sharing your story at our AYE event next year, you can contact us at email@example.com or reach out to us on our social media pages.