Jack Jonasson, General Manager of the WECC is a former teacher in the Tune In program. He has seen first hand the importance of having a safe place for kids “in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Winnipeg. We are surrounded by gang activity and drug use.”
Through Tune In, kids can escape street life and enter a world of music, song, creativity and acceptance.
Beginning with music basics, Tune In allows kids to express themselves and is an instrument in itself of gang prevention.
“Their lives are not easy,” says Kerri Stephens, Co-Ordinator of Tune In and Community Outreach and Fundraising Sponsorship for WECC.
Kerri’s duties include hiring music teachers and providing healthy snacks for the kids who attend after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She liaisons with schools in WECC’s catchment area to inform teachers and parents of opportunities with Tune In and has seen participation triple this past year.
Building confidence is part of Tune In and in the recent past the young students have performed at the Forks for Culture Days and attend WECC’s Play and Record summer camps.
Under the tutelage of professional multi-instrumentalists, Tune In kids give concerts for local schools and many in the audience say, “I want to do that too.” That is why Kerri Stephens is passionate about what she does.
“Here they find a new life,” she says. “I’ve heard of kids who said to gang recruiters, ‘I can’t join because I have to do my music.’”
Kerri is most proud of one of Tune In’s graduates who is now working as a mentor to kids in the program.
She organizes a Tune In concert for parents and friends at the end of the school year to celebrate the musical achievements of the kids.
From planning a free dinner every December for 150 people in need in the area to expanding Tune In to include song writing and stage presentation led by professionals, she values the importance of community connections.
Newcomers to Canada are a valuable resource to the centre and Tune In has been enhanced by volunteer parents who are teaching everyone African music.
With funds raised by Margaret’s Choir from their Dec. 6 benefit concert at Jubilee Place, 173 Talbot Avenue, the Tune In Music Mentorship Program will be able to provide musical respite to more kids, one additional evening a week in the new year.
Under the direction of Nathan Poole with piano accompanist Charmaine Bacon, the 175 member choir will sing a medley of well known theme songs. Special guest performers include DMCI Chamber Choir with Director, Cynthia Peyson Whal, Emma Geurts, cellist, Garth Rempel on guitar and Josh Ayers on drums.
Tickets for the 2:30 p.m. show are $16 for adults; $10 for students and $5 for youth under 5 years of age. To reserve yours call: Geoff, 204-488-0912 or Pat, 204-452-6590.