Kids Up Front
From our perspective, programs such as The Heartstrings Program are essential in providing arts and cultural enrichment to those in our community who may not be able to afford such opportunities, for those who are dealing with complex personal and social situations, and for many of our most vulnerable citizens. Many of our families are struggling to provide for basic needs in their households; programs such as Heartstrings offers inclusion and removes barriers to participation in our community. In particular, we see increased demand for programs like Heartstrings given the ongoing economic climate in our city and province as a whole. With 10% unemployment in our city, we see increased need reflected in food bank use, EI, rental vacancies, etc.
Our clients may be struggling with finances, may be in shelters, may have life threatening or chronic health issues, be living in foster care or group homes, be in transition, or facing enormous personal challenges. A day out with their children, engaged in healthy and positive recreation and leisure pursuits can be restorative, rejuvenating and inspiring. It can provide for family bonding, and expose children to new forms of the arts, the world of music, literature, culture and live performance. Heartstrings brings inclusion for many that are often excluded; it makes the arts accessible for all, and we see the gratitude and impact in the cards that we receive from families that have attended events. We know that engagement in community is a protective factor for mental health and social development, and we know that involvement in positive recreational and leisure pursuits reduces social isolation, and can increase positive and pro social behaviors in children and youths.
“The heartstrings program is a remarkable opportunity for (our) families and the children they care for. The children get lost in the wonderment of the experience. They often, have never been to anything like this and express joy over what they see and hear for the first time. The parents are so happy to share this experience with their children that they otherwise would unable to participate in. They see the impact on the children as their love of music grows and their view of the world increases with something so new and magical.“