By Hadya Azeem

There is nothing quite as magical as seeing your first live performance, the energy of sitting in the concert hall in anticipation, hearing the cheers of an audience, and getting to watch a concert, a play, or even an orchestra performance of your favourite movie soundtrack. These are the memories that inspire dreams and are carried on forever, told for generations to come. 

In 2000, Kids Up Front Founder John Dalziel went to a sporting event and saw how many seats go unused. He realized at that moment there were many kids and families within our city who would love to be in those seats but may never get the chance. So, he created the Kids Up Front Foundation, a charity where people could donate their unused tickets and give them a new life by sending deserving kids and families in their place. 

Over the last 23 years, Kids Up Front has grown a lot, distributing tickets through partnerships with over 150 agencies within the city and now offering some of its own programming and events, including fundraising initiatives such as the annual All-In-For-Kids poker tournament. But one thing has stayed the same, its focus on providing kids and families with opportunities to get out and enjoy enriching experiences together.

Kids Up Front believes every kid should have the opportunity to experience the magic of a live performance, sports game, concert, festival, or local attraction. For many kids and families these opportunities are not just a magical night out, but they are often a safe haven. With all the challenges they may be experiencing in everyday life, these opportunities allow them to have a couple hours to escape. Not having to worry about their financial, social, physical, or family situations, but just being able to live in the moment and enjoy. The donations Kids Up Front receives provide a sense of hope, joy, and fulfillment for families. 

“It has been a child, taken into care, separated from their siblings and reunited at a sports game to create a memory together during such a difficult time. It has been a child who returns to their family from foster care and is able to share the wonders of a play they attended. It has been children with the most unimaginable stories, being able to laugh and giggle at a movie together,” says an agency partner. “For some, it has been the first time they heard an orchestra, saw a ballet, or enjoyed a performance, to become aware of worlds they had never been introduced to before. I truly believe Kids Up Front allows for those who receive tickets, a bridge for families to visit, caregivers to bond with children who just arrived at their homes, and for kids for just a moment to be children and play and feel wonder.” 

“We are so grateful for our partnership with the Calgary Philharmonic and all the wonderful individual donors who champion our cause and support our programs. Your donations have more of an impact than you could ever imagine,” says Nicky Nash, Executive Director of Kids Up Front. “Thank you for fueling the minds, imaginations, and nourishing the spirits of all our kids and families, ensuring these experiences are accessible for all and that all children can have a seat in the crowd.”