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Cross-district show celebrates art by Burnaby, New West, Vancouver students with diverse abilities

Art by local high school students with special needs is on display at a first-of-its-kind, curated exhibit at the Roundhouse arts centre in Vancouver this week.

Art by Burnaby high school students is on display at a curated exhibit at the Roundhouse arts centre in Vancouver this week.

The Building a Better Tomorrow through Art: I Can exhibit is a first-of-its-kind, multi-district art show, featuring artists with diverse abilities.

It was the brainchild of Judy Chiao, a teacher with Burnaby North Secondary School’s Access program, which acts as a kind of homeroom for students with diverse cognitive abilities.

“When the idea of an art exhibit first started, it was to create an opportunity for multiple schools across multiple districts to connect, create and build a platform for our students with diverse needs that will support visibility within our community,” she said. “We were fortunate that many teachers across three school districts shared in our vision.”

Eleven schools from Burnaby, New Westminster and Vancouver joined the project, and the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in Yaletown  stepped up to help.

“Not only did they provide an incredible space for the showcase of the artwork, the team at the Roundhouse decided to make this project a partnership,” Chiao said. “They brought together visual artists and technicians for installation and lighting to transform the exhibition hall at the Roundhouse into a curated art gallery.”

Works by local students from Burnaby North, Alpha, Burnaby Central, Byrne Creek, Cariboo Hill and Moscrop secondary schools will be on display at the Roundhouse until the end of BC Youth Week on Saturday.

On Friday, visitors will get a chance to meet the artists behind the works and enjoy refreshments with family, friends and community members from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for that event have already sold out. 

“For the Access team at North, this is another step towards our belief in intentional inclusion, which is to provide meaningful experiences for our students while creating opportunities when supporting them,” Chiao said of the exhibit.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor