By Eric Chen, Youth Advisory Council Member

On an ordinary Friday on March 14, I was just lying down on my bed going through my Twitter feed and relaxing when something caught my attention. A tweet from Limelight, the association of young artists in Mississauga, was advertising a competition to design and help create a mural in the Erin Meadows Community Centre for Rebel’14, which just so happened to be my local community centre.

047Now, if you were to give me the opportunity to enter this competition a year before, or even 8 months before, it would be highly unlikely that I would even consider entering.  I was never the most ambitious, confident, or courageous person out there and whenever faced with an opportunity I often regrettably overlooked it and never experienced what I could have.

However things started to change for the better after I joined the PCYI Youth Advisory Council. Actually joining PCYI’s Youth Advisory Council itself and having the courage to go ahead and apply was a challenge for me, but I wanted to take a chance and make the difference that I wanted to see in Peel Region. Even coming out of the interview I was never confident that I would actually make it onto the Council, but I’m now glad that I took that chance. Joining PCYI for me was a huge stepping stone; it helped me prove to myself that taking chances in life is a good thing, and I’ve been more proactive than ever. I’ve learned how to be more confident of myself by being a part of the youth council.

How does this relate to the Erin Meadows Community Centre Mural? Well, like I said, if I had the opportunity to enter the competition a year ago or even 8 months ago I probably would not have taken it, but I did. Thanks to my new found confidence and courage, I took the opportunity and entered the competition. I ended up winning the competition; again proving to myself how important risk taking is and how being confident can really go a long way, letting me experience something that I would have never have if I didn’t have to courage to take the step forward.

About the Mural in Eric’s words: Along with following the chosen theme for the design, I wanted to mix my interests of art/design and my local community together to create the mural. The theme that I chose for the design was "community". I decided that since the community centre acts as hub for people all around to come together and live, I wanted my design to be very unified and seem as one. I created a unified look in the design by using geometric patterns to create a collage style appearance. The people surrounding the building enjoying the many parks and public spaces in the community represent the life of the area.  I hope that my design helps to inspire other young artists to help make the community an even better place.
About the Mural in Eric’s words: Along with following the chosen theme for the design, I wanted to mix my interests of art/design and my local community together to create the mural. The theme that I chose for the design was “community”. I decided that since the community centre acts as hub for people all around to come together and live, I wanted my design to be very unified and seem as one. I created a unified look in the design by using geometric patterns to create a collage style appearance. The people surrounding the building enjoying the many parks and public spaces in the community represent the life of the area. I hope that my design helps to inspire other young artists to help make the community an even better place.

And what an experience it was. The process of making the mural from start to finish was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. All the amazing people that I got to work with and helped me along the way made the whole project possible. While I have been saying that it took courage on my part to enter the competition and make it possible for me, if it wasn’t for the efforts of the CITY Erin Meadows (the community centre youth group), Rebel ’14, and Limelight: The Association of Young Artists, the entire project and experience would not have been possible.

The amazing youth groups and organizations around the Peel Region give youth the opportunity to find their own confidence and courage to take steps forward in their life, just like how the groups that supported me made my experience one that I will never forget.

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Eric is a grade 11 student at John Fraser Secondary School and a member of the PCYI Youth Advisory Council. He joined PCYI’s youth advisory council in September 2013. Eric’s interests include architecture and urban environments, including the social environments. Eric was born and raised in Mississauga his entire life and has joined PCYI to help see the social environment of Peel for children and youth be even better than it already is. Eric tweets for PCYI at @PCYI_YAC

Stepping into the Limelight: PCYI Youth Advisory Council member Eric shares his story of becoming a leader in Peel