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Pathways to employment, creative expression open up for artist

BACI helps Ashley-Nicol discover interest in digital media
Lisa Bailey

Pursuing opportunities related to her creativity are opening up gateways to meaningful employment and breaking down internal barriers for Ashley-Nicol.

The 21-year-old says expressing herself through her art has been enhanced through the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI).

Amongst her accomplishments is creating an animated digital film through a My Tomorrows media project accessible on YouTube, and graduating from a film and visual arts workshop offered by the non-profit Intersections Media Opportunities for Youth.

Ashley-Nicol also continues in her paid position as a community support worker with the inclusive arts co-operative Artists Helping Artists (AhA), supported in part by BACI.

With the positive, growing experiences she’s had, Ashley-Nicol says she would “definitely take the chance to pursue bigger and better things.”

BACI outreach counsellor Cherry Sheena says she’s inspired by Ashley-Nicol, whom she’s supported for the past 18 months.

“It’s really exciting to see her accomplish so much and try so hard to work to her potential,” Sheena says.

Ashley-Nicol demonstrates that people should not limit themselves and pursue keen interests.

“She wasn’t looking for programs that were specifically for people with disabilities, she was thinking outside of the box, and she had a support network around her that believes she can do this, and she did well.”

In order to participate in the Intersections project, Ashley-Nicol had to apply and was one of six chosen from amongst approximately 50 applicants.

She and her classmates – all of them at-risk youth facing various challenges in life – studied editing, lighting and other aspects of film-making. They had to complete three projects during the fall course.

They also had to complete a paid internship. At Force Four Entertainment, Ashley-Nicol was a pre-production assistant to story editors working on a true-crime TV show.

This experience builds on her interest in digital media, first sparked through Our Tomorrows which involved the National Film Board of Canada and Simon Fraser University.

“I was really blessed just to be able to get into the Intersections workshop and be able to learn from people who have actually been in the industry and who have so much experience,” Ashley-Nicol says, adding she remains in contact with Intersections staff.

She says she hopes to apply her learnings at AhA. She could, for example, help to create a promotional video profiling the co-operative that could be shown during exhibitions held by AhA in the community.

The Intersections project is also a nice addition to her resume as she continues to seek further meaningful employment, Ashley-Nicol says.

Sheena says Intersections presented invaluable motivation for Ashley-Nicol as she learned with peers with very similar interests and very different barriers in their lives.

“She really rose to the occasion and really enjoyed it. And she saw a different part of herself come out and that really is motivating factor that she would really love to work more in that area (of digital media) and she recognizes that AhA is a really good place to start, it’s a good place to exercise creativity.”

Ashley-Nicol says BACI has helped her embrace a long-standing love and interest in art and discover in particular digital media.

Click here to see Ashley-Nicol’s work.

Click here to access the Intersections website.

If you have a story to share or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 25, or e-mail lisa(at)axiomnews.ca.

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