The Art of Hope: Virtual Exhibit Highlights Community Resilience and the Power of Sport during Covid-19

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    TORONTO, ON (October 15, 2020) – Today, local artist Ebti Nabag unveiled ‘At Home, In the Game’, a virtual exhibit created in conjunction with community-based basketball organization Lay-Up

    Using photography as a medium, it captures the essence of Lay-Up’s summer program, which reached over 300 youth from Jane and Finch, Malvern, Mount Dennis, Regent Park, Rexdale, Scarborough and Thorncliffe, during the height of the pandemic. 

    “The concept is to travel from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and see how the landscapes change, to experience the diversity of the communities and the youth who live there,” said Nabag. “I wanted to examine the meaningful connections that can be built using community programming in the time of social distancing.” 

    Rooted in research, Lay-up’s virtual curriculum addressed the ever-increasing importance of physical activity in boosting the immune system and positively impacting mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic. 

    “We focused heavily on social interaction, engagement and making them feel seen,” said Micaella Riche, Lay-Up’s Basketball Operations Manager. “Ebti brought the program to life and helped switch the lens on how these kids are often portrayed. She reframed them as youth, who are pure intentioned and who love sport.”

    Over eight weeks, trained coaches provided a combination of interactive basketball, at-home challenges and creative activities, ingrained in the culture of basketball. Kits with equipment, educational resources and art materials were provided. 

    “Lay-up is a great way to get active at home and it’s entertaining,” said 12-year-old Sakina U. “I liked how supportive and how kind they were.”

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    The program also met the holistic needs of the communities, which continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, particularly in regards to food resources and access to technology. Working with local partners, Lay-Up provided more than 250 families with healthy food kits, gift cards and food education resources, as well as gifted laptops to 30 families. 

    “Lay-Up is founded in the belief that every kid needs a team and this took on extra credence during the global pandemic,” said Chris Penrose, Lay-Up’s Director of Programs and Operations. “We’re extremely proud that this program could provide some hope during a difficult time and grateful to have this exhibit to share the experience with the greater basketball community.”

    Explore the exhibit here. Register here to join Nabag and the Lay-Up team next Thursday, October 22 for a virtual tour and talk. 

    ‘At Home, In the Game’ is generously supported by the Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation

    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Ebti Nabag is a visual artist who works with photography, video and installation, as well as a digital and analogue photography instructor. She teams up with galleries and community centres to develop art programs that provide opportunities for creative self-expression and aid in the development of identity. She is a graduate of Ryerson University’s MFA Program. 

    ABOUT LAYUP

    Lay-Up is a community-based basketball program designed for children and youth (6-14) of all skill levels, delivered year-round in Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvements Areas. They provide evidence-based programming, delivered by certified coaches and designed for players of all skills levels to have fun and develop their skills. For more information visit layup.ca or support here

    Courtesy Lay-up

    Photography by Ebti Nabag Co-Curated by Ebti Nabag and Chris Penrose Design by Trung HoangAudio Editing by Martin Annon Production Support by Marion Mendoza and Micaella Riche Interviews Conducted by Collins Amofah, Mahal De La Durantaye, Matthew Augustine, Christianna Crooks, CJ Bennett, Deidre Beaumont