To support new mothers new to Canada, Spirit’s Call Choir will perform a benefit concert Sunday, December 8 at 2:30 pm at Jubilee Place, 173 Talbot Avenue, in support of Interpreter Services at Healthy Start For Mom & Me.
Spirit’s Call will donate the proceeds to support the interpreter and translation services for immigrant and refugee women. Some of the languages represented include Amharic, Mandarin, Nepali, Urdu, Tagalog, and Russian, with attendance often reaching seventy moms plus babies, all in one room.
Workshops are given on what is available for maternal care in Canada a well as parenting information. Moms are given food coupons, bus tickets, meal bags, Vitamin D and prenatal vitamins.
They are taught the importance of breastfeeding and family planning, as well as the importance of healthy finger foods and booster seats. They learn about first aid, diabetes, medications, housing, healthy relationships and how to plan healthy family meals.
Facilitators work hard to break down the barrier of fear that often intimidates women new to Canada who have never been to a doctor or visited a pediatrician in their homeland. Postnatal services include information on postpartum depression and community resources.
Sometimes just showing up can be an act of courage. Moms can bring their babies to any one of nine Healthy Start for Mom and Me programs in Winnipeg. Every Sunday afternoon all ages and stages of music experience the health benefits of singing with Spirit’s Call Choir.
While translation services are unique to the Knox Healthy Mom & Me program, what is unique about Spirit’s Call is how their welcoming approach is making singers out of folks who believed they could not sing. Both organizations embrace the new, the nervous and the risk takers. The magic of gaining confidence whether it be singing in front of others or parenting Canadian style, happens because of peer support and gentle coaching.
The personal connection from word of mouth is a great motivator in encouraging people to take a risk in venturing into something new. This is how most moms without English reading skills learn about Mom & Me. Coincidently, an overheard conversation at this year’s Folk Festival is how Cheryl Andrew learned that, if you can talk you can sing and that Spirit’s Call Choir is the foremost non-audition choir in town to develop that ability.
Cheryl says she experiences a “feeling of peace that lasts,” something she values as she also started a new job. She says, “The conductor and her new peers take you as you are, welcome you and teach you. They have given me strength and shown me I can do something I thought I couldn’t do.”
Candice Ludwig also appreciates how support from others is transforming her into a performing alto. A healthy living coach by profession, Candice heard a feature on CBC radio “on the drive home.” She was intrigued by an interview of a winner in an Unsung Hero competition, namely, Margaret Tobin, Founder of Spirit’s Call Choir, who was explaining the health and spiritual benefits of singing.
The choir’s mandate of giving back to the community also hit a high note for Candice who says her entire experience of learning new songs and breathing techniques are added personal bonuses to the honour she has discovered by being part “of something bigger than all of us.”
Candice speaks for all 160 members of the choir when she says that conductor, Jeremy Vallance, is a force of energy in getting the task of managing and blending the myriad of vocal abilities into a concert quality sound. Candice is now “in bliss” every time the choir is together and she receives the peer encouragement and gentle instruction. Success in learning to read music is like learning a foreign language; support in a safe atmosphere is key to mastery of the new concepts.
Coincidently, Candice’s experience mirrors that of the new mothers and the way they feel about Mom & Me, according to executive director, Gail Wylie. The public health nurses, dieticians and outreach workers also provide gentle basic instruction in new parenting life skills as they relate to the Canadian experience.
Ms. Wylie proudly documents a success rate of 88% in breastfeeding and a marked reduction of low birth-weight babies due to the prenatal education at Healthy Start for Mom and Me. Likewise, Jeremy Vallance and Margaret Tobin proudly document over $170,000. raised through Spirit’s Call Choir benefit concerts for local charities as well as enhancing the singing enjoyment that is everyone’s birthright.