Maria Tavares (left) works with Grade 6 student Zaphira Stasula on St. Josaphat Catholic School’s contribution to the Doors of Hope project. Photo by Tanya Besedina

Students open up the ‘Doors of Hope’

  • May 10, 2013

TORONTO - Artistic students are using discarded doors as a canvass to illustrate the social justice work of Catholic Charities and the agencies it supports.

The idea behind the Doors of Hope project is that the discarded doors symbolize people in need while the artistic rejuvenation represents the help provided by agencies.

“This project is about capturing the essence of what the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities does for our community,” said Maria Tavares, the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s arts resource teacher. “It’s about instilling in young minds the importance of giving back to the community and that without each other we do not have the ability to be successful in a community.”

Students are given the freedom to produce images of hope, compassion and perseverance onto the doors in the medium of their choice — but not before doing some research.

“Before they actually create an idea or come up with an idea they research the different charities,” said Tavares. “They’ve been given a (USB) key with all the archival information.”

At the elementary level students collaborate in large groups to complete a single door whlee at the secondary school level students work individually or in small groups.

The doors were to be completed by May 9 and will be on display at Catholic Charities’ 100th Anniversary Gala Dinner May 16.

When originally presented to Tavares last year, the scope of the project was to be limited to one school. But after discussing the project with John Notten, a teacher at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School, Doors of Hope was expanded across the board, and eventually to other school boards in the Greater Toronto Area.

In total Tavares is expecting about 100 doors, with 72 coming from Toronto schools alone.

For Tavares the project touches on the most important lesson not contained in the curriculum: the importance of becoming a contributing community member.

“If we don’t guide that and find a way to nurture that in students then they become lost,” said Tavares. “When we give students a sense of purpose their vision of what it is they’re supposed to become is a lot clearer.

“Our students are our future and they are going to be part of the community.”

Zaphira Stasula, a Grade 6 student at St. Josaphat Catholic School, said she is thankful for being part of the project and now has a greater understanding of what being part of a community has to offer.

“I’ve learned the message of hope,” said the 11-year-old who focused on agencies helping pregnant teens and young mothers. “There are people out there who need help. You have to realize that you can get that help from the community and that you need to trust people who can help you.”

Tavares said it isn’t just young Stasula who’s been positively influenced by participating in the Doors of Hope project.

“They all know they are doing this for a reason,” said Tavares.

“They are commemorating the work that our charities have done and hopefully in the future they will be the ones that will carry that work forward.”

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