The Virtual Bridges Initiative will provide refugee youth in Colombia, Uganda, Bangladesh and Jordan with online arts-based educational programming that allows participants to connect with peers and refugee artist mentors around the world who are eager to teach, learn and collaborate on creative art making projects - a powerful remedy to the social isolation and purposelessness felt by many youth living in refugee settlements, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 25.9 million refugees worldwide, more than half are under the age of 18. Many of these young people have experienced trauma as a result of their displacement and now find themselves struggling to adapt to life in refugee camps and host communities. With limited access to opportunities that restore hope and strengthen community resilience, many young people face a bleak future of poverty, social isolation, and joylessness.
The Virtual Bridges Initiative (VBI) uses technology to connect refugee youth to peers and artist mentors who care about them as individuals, want to learn about their culture and are eager to collaborate with them on shared creative projects. Through structured online workshops and interactive virtual art making projects, VBI cultivates a sense of community and connectedness while supporting the psycho-social development of refugee youth.
This initiative will expand Artolution's capacity to deliver programs that support community resilience and youth psycho-social development to crisis-affected populations by training 58 community-based teaching artists how to facilitate online workshops and projects that can reach displaced youth living outside of the local communities they serve.