While we try to accommodate ticket requests as often as we possibly can, there are certain high-demand events that we just sometimes aren’t able to get tickets for. Last month, we were sure that would be the case for when Paul McCartney came to town. Imagine our excitement, then, when not only did we have tickets donated to the show, but 2 of the tickets came with an entire VIP experience: front-row centre tickets with a private invitation to soundcheck, a VIP hospitality suite prior to the show and a piece of concert memorabilia. Many thanks to our donor who preferred to remain anonymous… our recipients were thrilled with the evening. Once again, the picture says more than we ever could.
There is so much to love about the holiday season: the excitement that seems to surround us, the kindness and compassion in abundance that is showing the very best sides of people, the lights that twinkle and sparkle through the long, dark nights… but the very best part of the holiday season is the anticipation and eagerness of the children, waiting to be enveloped in the magic that the holidays bring.
When thinking of putting the kids up front (forgive the pun!) during the holidays, one of the organizations that naturally comes to mind is Children First Family Services Association, an agency that provides a safe, temporary out-of-home placement for children unable to live with their family of origin. Children First is dedicated to providing quality, family based care to children who are in need of stability and consistency, believing that a nurturing, healthy and safe family environment is essential for the well being of all children. We couldn’t agree more, so it’s been a very fulfilling for us to help them provide experiences for the children in their care this year.
“On behalf of Children First, staff (AKA foster parents) and the foster children, we would like to say thank you for all the tickets you have had provided us in the past such as K days, Oilers, Oil kings, concert tickets to Brad Paisley, Bon Jovi with Kid Rock and the Singing Christmas Tree. Oilers game was most popular with the older teens. The teens that went to the oilers game had fun. It provided time alone for the staff to get know the teenagers in the home. It was time well spent. The staff appreciated the opportunity and had fun with the two teens. The older teens have never gone to a first class hockey before. This was such a treat for them. The staff (AKA foster parents) had an amazing time at the concerts. As everyone knows, being a foster parent is not an easy job and that they would like to say thank you for the wonderful opportunity to attend and to be able to get away to energize and rejuvenate. K-Days was also another fun family activity for the kids and foster parents. We are looking forward to another year of fun filled activities.”
– Tancy Truong, Children First
The Way In Program is an innovative program offered by Edmonton Public Schools, available to students at T. D. Baker School, Dan Knott School, and Edith Rogers Schools. Kids Up Front is proud to be a partner of this wonderful program which program works with teens and families to build on their strengths, deal with issues, and get involved in activities that help them learn skills to be successful. Some of the goals of the programs are to support youth and families by helping them cope through difficult times, helping them develop positive relationships, providing opportunities to build healthy, active lifestyles and to build on individual strengths to encourage success in both school and life. We love working closely with their program administrators to help them achieve their goals. We were glad to hear that we were able to spread some holiday cheer to these students through the gift of tickets to a recent Oil Kings game.
“Thanks so much for the tickets. The kids all really enjoyed the game. Oil Kings scored 5 goals, so everyone got a $5 gift certificate for Royal Pizza; they were all incredibly pumped. We really appreciate the opportunity you offered, and it’s a great point of bonding for the mentees with their mentors as there is more freedom at the hockey games. It was an exciting way to end off our Christmas “celebration” before the holiday break. Thanks for adding a little extra joy this holiday season!”
– Kiandra Wagar; Mentorship Coach with The Way In Project
As the old saying goes, sometimes a picture truly is worth 1000 words. Many thanks to TELUS for their generous donation of tickets to A 21st Century Christmas Carol, which was enjoyed by hundreds of children and families.
The Children’s Heart Society is made up of parents and extended families of children who have acquired or congenital heart disease. With the incredibly strong medical program offered in Edmonton for heart patients, they are finding themselves to have an ever-increasing membership, as they provide support, education, research and awareness for those children affected with congenital and acquired heart disease. Lifelong friendships and bonds are formed between these families who understand each other’s struggles in ways that nobody else can quite imagine.
We here at Kids Up Front are proud to support them as one of our partner agencies. By affording these children and families event opportunities and experiences, we are able to help the organization work towards their vision of a world in which children with heart disease and their families achieve an optimal quality of life. Sometimes, a little break from all the hospital visits can be the best medicine. Here are a couple of their standout moments from 2012.
“Our son Logan, age 17, loves hockey. He can’t play with his medical challenges and has loved being able to meet Shaun Horcoff, painted his # on his wall, which is done in the blue/gold Oilers colors. We haven’t been able to make this work lately, but have done it twice since he was 14. Logan has had 3 open heart surgeries, and spent most of 2 years in hospital. He would love to be able to do more, but with his medical history, and living 1.5 hrs. from Edmonton, activities are sometimes a challenge. We have really appreciated the activities/events that have been available to children from Kids up Front.”
“I took Brooklyn to see the 21st Century Christmas Story and Brooklyn loved every minute! I feel truly blessed that I have a chance to do these things with Brooklyn because otherwise I couldn’t afford it! It really touches my heart when we have such great programs in this city and the kindness of others!”
We look forward to working with them in 2013, hopefully providing event more memorable opportunities along the way.
The Centre for Race and Culture has been working for nearly a decade to support individuals and families who are refugees or immigrants to Canada, helping them navigate a culture and society that in some cases is so vastly different from their native land. More often than not, these families have lost their social support system as soon as they left their homeland. Not only do they need to start from scratch and determine what resources are available to them in their new community here, they also need to begin to rebuild a support network for themselves here. In some cases, families arrive here in Canada fleeing persecution and arrive literally with only the belongings they can carry on their person. The Centre for Race & Culture (CFRAC) steps in to bridge the gap for these newcomers, by giving them enough of a head start to ensure that these people are able to start out on the right foot. It’s a vicious circle when people are forced to start in poverty while struggling with other barriers as well (language and education predominantly in these cases).
We at Kids Up Front are proud to be able to help them with their mandate; our goal is to provide quality experiences for all underserved youth in our community, and these newcomers are no exception. In some ways, these opportunities may be even more important to them than we realize: they are able to experience a family outing, which is normally not financially possible, but they are also able to interact with the general population here, taking in new things that may not necessarily be a priority in their culture. Here is their holiday story:
One of my students attended the Christmas Party at WEM on the weekend. I walked into the classroom today and before even asking, she told me that the party was wonderful! She and her family got there early and did not mind waiting until the doors opened at 6:30 p.m. She loved it all, the free food, the rides, the gifts and seeing all the people there. She stayed until 9:30 when the doors closed!! She went with her mother, younger brothers her mother’s friend and the friend’s son. they had a fabulous time!!!
Another student left her free tickets at school (which we gave to some other students). But she went to the WEM party as well and paid to get in. She had a good time too!!!
The other students seemed very excited to hear about the party. I hope that this will encourage them to attend more of these events in the future. The students I work with have been in Edmonton (Canada) for as little as 3 months and as much as three years. So they are still learning about the culture and are understandably a bit shy to try new things. Having one student use the tickets from Kids Up Front to attend such a great event serves to encourage others to explore the culture a bit more.
– Elsa Robinson; Program Coordinator, Bamboo Shield Program, Centre For Race and Culture
Boys and Girls Club of Leduc provides a safe, supportive place where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life. Theystrive to offer children and youth from all economic, cultural and social backgrounds access to the resources, supports and opportunities that will enable them to overcome barriers and achieve their positive potential in life. In supporting them as a partner agency, Kids Up Front is able to expand their reach and impact into the greater Edmonton community. The story they shared with us recently truly embodies the spirit of the holiday stories.
When the Sound of Music came to Edmonton, Kids Up Front provided our agency with some tickets. I knew that a young girl (14 years old) was talking about the Sound of Music and how every year for the past 14 years, she would sit with her older sister, mom, grandma and great-grandmother to watch the movie. A couple of years ago, her great-grandmother passed away, with the tradition of watching the Sound of Music continues with a bowl of popcorn on the table beside the vacant chair where great-grandma always sat.
The girl, Tristin, was telling me that if she could afford it, she would have liked to have been able to take her mom, sister and grandma to see the stage production. “It would have been the best thing ever because we have never been to a concert or stage show before…”
Three days after hearing the story, Kids Up Front sent out an email regarding the Sound of Music tickets. I put in my request, hoping that I was not too late. Imagine the excitement I felt when the reply came back saying yes, we could have the tickets! I sent a text to Tristin asking if she would like to take her grandma to see the Sound of Music, I could tell that she was fighting back the excitement and tears, “Really… I would love that more anything really?…….”
There were five members of the family that went to see the show: the two sisters, mom, grandma and a cousin to fill the 5th seat. They still talk about that experience they shared together, only possible because of the generosity of the donated tickets to Kids Up Front. I am always the most fortunate and grateful person when I am able to give a family or take a bus full of children to an event because of Kids Up Front. I have the best seat in the house, to witness the emotion and sincere gratitude from the recipients of tickets is a true honour and privilege.
Thank you Kids up Front, you do make dreams come true, and create a lifetime of memories! – John Norton; Executive Director, Boys and Girls Club of Leduc
For community agencies, Kids Up Front decreases pressure on organizations and enhances services, by providing opportunities for children and youth to build social skills and enabling front-line workers to build meaningful relationships with children and youth.
Hearing it in their own words truly drives home the importance of what Kids Up Front does for our partner agencies in the community.
“Here is a quick feel good story for you. We had a case conference last week with one youth living at Cross Roads. At case conferences, we talk about what went on, as far as treatment for the youth’s issues the past three months and what we will work on in the next three months. So the meeting is just about to the end and the social worker starts asking basic questions such as: “Do staff treat you nicely here, do they feed you well, do you get out in the community?” and on and on.
The youth replies: “Cross Roads is the best home I have ever lived in.” (Unfortunately this youth has been to a lot of group homes in his past). His social worker and her supervisor look in surprise and say – “Ohhh really, why is that now?”
“Because the staff here are awesome and they take us to a lot of really cool things like Oil Kings Games, Eskimo football games, Roller Derby, Concerts, Star Wars show, comic book show…” He must have listed off twenty outings he was able to experience. The meeting ended on a great note, and his workers both thanked us for providing such great care.
So I realize all these opportunities come from Kids Up Front and by ensuring I take the time to come pick up tickets and ensure kids get on these great outings not only are we providing a less fortunate youth with an exciting outing, but in the end it also helps our agency do its role. So I just wanted to thank you guys once again for all you do for our kids and Cross Roads.” – Bill McMullin; Director – Cross Roads Youth Care
Who doesn’t love this time of year? To start off the season and spread holiday cheer, we hosted an evening of gingerbread decorating at Ronald McDonald House last week, and what fun it was. Read more about our adventures that evening here.