Cara Klassen moved to Calgary five years ago, after going to school at the University of Saskatchewan.  Having grown up in the small town of High River, Calgary has always been a familiar city to her, but has never quite felt like home.  The Urban Exposure Project has provided insight and appreciation on just how diverse and wonderful this city truly is.

This is her photo essay from the 2016 Urban Exposure Project.

1. Bloom

A sculpture on Calgary's St. Patrick's Island

This view of the city skyline is taken from the recently revitalized St Patrick’s Island.  The art installation, “Bloom” was inspired by the natural landscape and the surrounding cityscape.  Much like a compass it points in all directions representing the different opportunities that Calgary has to offer.  My discovery through UEP took me on a journey of just how Calgary empowers its citizens to explore and excel in these opportunities.

2. Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association

A bulletin board reads "Follow your bliss"

Taken from the intake room of the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA), “follow your bliss” is exactly what this association empowers women to do.  This incredible non-profit organization addresses the physical, mental and emotional needs of women who have immigrated to Calgary.  Whether it is connecting them to a community to have a sense of belonging, or helping them with language and social barriers, their goal is to enable these women to live successful and enriched lives.  Made up primarily of volunteers, I was overwhelmed by the impact CIWA has on women and their families.

3. The Chair

A plastic chair sits at a school desk

Children are fidgety!  Especially during math class.  More often than not, the environment children are put into conforms with social norms and not necessarily with the individuals needs.  William Roper Hull School is a one-of-a-kind school that offers individualized programs for children and youth who have behavioural and emotional challenges. The concept of a rocking chair as a desk chair encourages children to move, resulting in better concentration of their studies.  The beauty of this school lies in the small details of how they adapt the environment to the student’s needs.  This school is part of a much bigger organization called Hull Services, whose vision is to free children of emotional and mental health challenges.

4. Camp fYrefly

A Camp Fyrefly sign

Youth summer camps have a way of combining imagination, adventure, and creativity all the while sneaking in personal development and growth.  Kind of like when mom hides broccoli in the mac-n- cheese! Camp fYrefly, in partnership with the Calgary Sexual Health Centre, is a place where sexual & gender minorities can come and truly learn to be the best version of themselves in a world that is not always accepting of who they are.  The camp seeks to promote leadership, individual development, socialization and resiliency.  Empowering youth to be true to themselves!

Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, Hull Services and Calgary Sexual Heath Centre are all United Way partner agencies working to make Calgary a better city for everyone.

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