A letter from a previous student
Dear Lola, We often look back on our lives reflecting on those special moments that changed our perception of what was possible and how meaningful a dream can be. It is on that subject that I write this letter. As a 14 year old boy I could not have known what my experience at the Avenue Road Arts School would mean or how it would change my life forever. Armed with only my passion for art and a few old pencils I walked through the doors nervous, terrified and overjoyed. Receiving my opportunity to study at the Avenue Road Arts School, was the beginning of something special. For the first time I could explore my passions, talents in an inspiring environment unlike any I had ever experienced before. John Viljoen, my teacher, quickly became my mentor, friend and role model. John helped guide my development and never hesitated to help me tackle new artistic challenges. For the first time in my life I was being pushed to become a better artist. The Avenue Road Arts School became a home away from home for me. And as the second eldest of ten this kind of refuge was very hard to come by. The Avenue Road Arts School became a place where I could spend a few hours a week doing what I loved to do.close
I am the second eldest child of ten raised by my single mother in the inner city of Toronto. Growing up I loved art. But like so many youth in this city, my passions went noticed but un-nurtured. School was difficult because I was always missing something. This may seem a bit oversimplified but the fact is that this one opportunity began something that changed me forever. For the first time my talents and the difficulties of my situation were recognized and addressed. Being able to study art gave me a way of structuring my dreams and an avenue to release my anger, sadness and stress from the many challenges that faced me almost every day. This new focus spread like wildfire into every part of my life. From the bottom of the class I was now a monthly honor role student, captain of my sports teams, and an active artist for my school news- paper and art magazine.
Before attending arts school I was very confused, angry and constantly without a clear sense of direction. School was laborious and at times it was difficult to picture finishing and moving on to higher education. I was next to impossible to imagine a tangible future. I constantly felt a sense of anxiety about life, feeling something in me but never really having a way to direct it.
The Arts Access Fund changed my life forever. It opened my mind, heart and eyes to a whole new world of opportunities and possibilities. I am still taking art classes at the Avenue Road Arts school, and continue to study under the guidance of John Viljoen. It continues to be a home away from home for me. I only wish that many others had the same opportunity that I had. I always look back with a smile – and forward with a grateful heart.