WHERE WE PLAY
This project explores access to space by empowering youth to share their relationship to gyms, basketball, identity and photography through workshops and a mural installation.
For a major percentage of the life of a gym, it is dormant.
When activated, these spaces foster relationships and wellbeing in ways that can have lifelong benefits.
In a city where there are increasing demands on these spaces - both for sport and uses outside of sport - access to gyms is becoming more precious.
Where We Play began as a conversation we had with photographer Ebti Nabag about how to create images that could spark bigger conversations about gym space in the basketball and sport for development landscape. We wanted to place the potential of an empty gym beside the raw inspiration of a gym full of life, activity, belonging and energy.
The great majority of basketball courts in Toronto are in schools, so we started this project at Dixon Grove Junior Middle School with a group of grade 6 and grade 7 students.
Over the course of three-weeks, Ebti led a series of six hands-on photography workshops to explore the idea of Where We Play.
The centrepiece of this project is a mural that animates an empty gym with the presence and personality of the students to represent the fulfilled potential of this space.
The contrast of the empty gym is both beautiful as an image of possibility and a prompt to think creatively about how we work towards the future of access to basketball.
We also see how the idea of Where We Play ripples into other connected environments through the series of photo essays created by students participating in the project, just as the positive impact of basketball in a gym space reverberates throughout other areas of our lives.
The portraits were an important component of the mural creation, but they also are a stand-alone component of Where We Play, offering a window into the process behind this project and the community built through a shared love for basketball and the creative elements that are organically connected to the game.
WHERE WE PLAY
Through Ebti’s guided workshops, these photo essays were created by pairs of students who used the photography skills they were learning and applying to create images about how they see the idea of Where We Play in their school environment.
Being a part of this work on both sides of the camera added an important layer to the narrative of gyms and space to play being essential in changing the future of access to basketball and more.
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