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LA&PS Professor collaborates with YPT on 5th Annual Children, Youth and Performance Conference

LA&PS Professor collaborates with YPT on 5th Annual Children, Youth and Performance Conference

The fifth annual Children, Youth and Performance Conference took place June 16-18th 2023 this Spring at Young People’s Theatre in Toronto. This conference is the largest academic forum held in Canada focusing specifically on children, youth and the performing arts. After two years online, this year’s conference was held in-person, and included live performances, interactive workshops, panels and networking events. Shukria Yusuf, a York alumnus who attended the conference shared “this year was exceptional because it was my first time attending in person…these inspiring minds have given me so many tools and different perspectives to consider when working with children and youth.”

Researchers, performers, educators, artists, practitioners and community organizers at the conference shared and exchanged knowledge to explore the applications and implications of performance work with young people.  

Dr. Abigail Shabtay, a professor in LA&PS has run this conference annually since 2017, receiving funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies to support the past three conferences. This year, she led a team of 16 research assistants and moderators, including undergraduate, master’s and PhD students, who helped support the conference. A recent Master’s graduate, Kate Moo King-Curtis describes the conference as “a true example of holistic knowledge building and sharing, while celebrating youth and the performing arts!"

In addition to a wide range of local and global contributions, numerous members of the York community, including faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students and alumni participated in the three conferences as presenters and attendees.

For instance, Shaney Fullwood, an LA&PS student shared “I loved every bit of it, I loved the diversity, the inclusion and the creativity put into each presentation."

Conference participants engaging in a theatrical workshop

Similarly, Shahmeen Ahmad, a recent LA&PS graduate remarked “attending the CYP conference was very exciting and eye opening in several ways, with round-table discussions and panelists from around the world, it was an unbelievable experience to hear from such talented researchers making an impact on youth-focused topics."

With over 160 participants, the sessions included unique experiential content. For instance, one interactive workshop led by Tashara Gavin-Moorehead (California State University), demonstrated how Afrocentric and Black-centric movement practices, meditation and verbal affirmations, can help better artists and educators support young people’s artistic creation.

Jessica Campbell, a student in Children, Childhood and Youth Studies explained “I had the opportunity to meet and learn from researchers, educators and performing artists from all over the world…I particularly enjoyed participating in the workshops about movement with props and script writing from oral histories."

Ty Zeineddine, a recent LA&PS graduate added “whether presenting, attending, or organizing, the conference-goers were dedicated to creating an inclusive, nonjudgmental, and critical space."

Dr. Shabtay and her team are already planning next year’s CYP Conference for June 2024, and look forward to continuing the robust discussions and activities.

An interactive workshop on Afrocentric movement and meditation