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Our Programs

Expressions Program of the Arts

Expressions, is a multi-component life skills program that utilizes the Arts to facilitate resiliency and success in youth at risk.  Through this program the young people are provided with opportunities to tap into their imagination and create personal works of art, music and photographs. Many of the young people served in the HomeBridge Community struggle to express themselves and this program provides them with a safe space to free themselves of boundaries and judgement. They are encouraged to follow their own artistic inspiration and path no matter what that looks like.

Imagine what would be possible if you truly believed in yourself and felt safe enough to be your authentic self.  What could you do if you felt safe enough to try new things and make mistakes without fear of judgement or shame?  What if you were supported and encouraged to grow and develop?  This is what the Expressions program is all about; creating an environment where the young people can develop the life-skills needed to move past their trauma and find their path to success.  They learn artistic methods and processes, how to play instruments, the basics of photography and impressive circus skills, but what they are really learning is how to express themselves and use their strengths and resilience to build the confidence and mastery to become their best self. 


The unfortunate reality for many of the young people served in the HomeBridge Community is that they have experienced, and may continue to experience, different forms of complex trauma in their lives.  According to Ford and Curtois (2009), complex trauma can be defined as exposure to severe stressors that are repetitive or prolonged, can involve harm or abandonment by caregivers or other responsible adults, and it occurs at developmentally vulnerable times in an individual’s life such as early childhood or adolescence, when critical periods of development are occurring.  Put simply, the frequency, intensity, and duration of significant life stressors placed on the youth we serve is far beyond what any person should be exposed to.  Although it is our hope that our youth care programs can provide stability and safety for the youth who are in our care, the effects of complex trauma are long-lasting, and can present as behavioural, emotional, social, or cognitive disruptions.  Luckily, brains are not concrete.  We can change, mold and develop over time, even in the face of adversity (Perry & Szalavitiz, 2006).


The goal of the Expressions program is to empower the youth through self-expression, where empowerment is defined as the development of self-efficacy (Bandura, 2000).  Research suggests that practicing the discipline of art can increase confidence and raise self-esteem (Health et al., 1998), which are both critical factors in the development of prosocial behaviour.  Participating in the creation of art, in many forms, in the presence of a skilled facilitator offers a safe opportunity to explore life as well as act as a means of expressing longing and hope (Amabile & Hennessey, 1992; Milkman et al., 1996).


Our skilled facilitators guide the youth through a discovery of possibilities.  We encourage them to open their minds to the creative process and dream big as they realize their potential.  The program runs from September to June throughout the entire HomeBridge Community. Sessions happen weekly in the programs and are adapted to meet the interest and needs of the individual youth involved. Classes are scheduled during school time at Bridges for Learning and are offered as advanced therapeutic programming in the evenings at all six youth care programs.

This program is entirely made possible through corporate and private donations. HomeBridge would like to thank the following past and current supporters for making this program possible for the youth we serve:

  • Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

  • Bluteau DeVenney & Company

  • CIBC Children’s Foundation

  • Clearwater Ltd.

  • Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage

  • Domus Realty

  • Gordon Foundation for Children and Youth

  • Gratitude at Work

  • Halifax-The Canadian Progress Club Halifax Citadel

  • Halifax Youth Foundation

  • Intact Foundation

  • Investors Group

  • Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth

  • Links of Love

  • MICCO Companies

  • RBC Foundation

  • Scotiabank

  • St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

  • St. Paul’s Home Board

  • Telus

  • Touch of Gold

  • Youth Employability Project

  • 100 Men Who Give a Damn! - Halifax

As a result of the generousity of our supporters we have seen many young people find success and a real sense of belonging since they started this program.




















Amabile, T. M., & Hennessey, B. A. (1992). The motivation for creativity in children. In A. K. Boggiano & T. S. Pittman (Eds.), Achievement and motivation (pp. 55-74). New York: Cambridge.


Bandura, A. (2000). Self-efficacy. In A. Kazdin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of psychology (Vol. 17, pp. 212-213). Washington, DC and New York: American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press.


Ford, J. D., & Courtois, C. A. (2009). Defining and understanding complex trauma and complex traumatic stress disorders. Treating complex traumatic stress disorders: An evidence-based guide, 13-30.


Heath, S. B., Soep, E., & Roach, A. (1998). Living the arts through language and learning: A report on community-based youth organizations [Monograph]. Americans for the Arts, 2(14), 1-11.


Perry, B. D., & Szalavitz, M. (2006). The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook-What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us about Loss, Love and Healing. Basic Books.


Music is my favorite part of the week. I didn't think I could play anything and now I can play a few songs on the guitar and I even sang in front of people. I never thought I would do that.

- HomeBridge Youth


Having been able to spend time with one of the Music Therapists for the Expressions Program has been a great way to let out stress.  It's a great distraction, it gave me a creative outlet and a chance to do something I love.

- HomeBridge Youth

“My favorite part of Expressions is that we always have fun.”

- HomeBridge Youth

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