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West Shore's free music program for at risk youth looks to secure more funding


It's been said that music is good for the soul. Since 2016 a music program on the West Shore has been helping at-risk youth by giving them confidence and a positive outlet. Luisa Alvarez tells us how organizers are looking for funding to keep it running.

CHEK News - Luisa Alvarez, January 21, 2018

Shaelynn Poisson has been coming to the West Shore Music Academy for a little over two years as part of a free music program.

"If something happened at school or you're having a bad day at school you can come to the band and your whole mood and your bad day goes away, you just feel like a whole new happy person," said Poisson.

The program engages at-risk youth living in the west shore communities.

"At risk means anybody who may not have a financial means or family support for whatever reasons," said program facilitator Christina Gentile.

And for the kids, this program gives them a safe space to thrive and learn through music and performance. It began in 2016 when the West Shore Arts Council received a grant from the province along with funding from both the City of Langford and the City of Colwood.

"We looked at youth and we were wondering what could we do with the youth here and where is there an avenue that we could impact through music," said West Shore Arts Council President Laura Davis.

The program caters to children and youth between the ages of 12-17, which according to Statistics Canada are among the highest at risk of depression and anxiety.

"Music is inherently therapeutic and I see it every time I teach music. People come in feeling sad, a little down from their day but they leave the music lesson feeling uplifted feeling energized and it's really such a transformative instrument to be able to foster that," said Gentile.

But because the program is free each year, new funding has to come through in order to keep it going.

"We are up against a lot of competition throughout British Columbia. We are hoping that because the population has grown here that will put us in the forefront but there is no guarantee. So with a situation like that, we are always on the edge as to whether we can get the full funding and keep the program running," said Davis.

As of right now, the program is at a standstill until funding for 2018 is fully secured.

"It will be a half a year or so until we might get new funding or not and the kids are waiting they want to get it going," said co-Owner of West Shore Music Academy Sabine David.

Donations to support the music program can be given through the West Shore Arts Council.

See the video of this story on the CHEK News website.

 

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