Canada150 Grant Update – Canada150 Through Music
“The July 1 concert event surpassed my expectations.”
On July 1, 2017, Kingstonians were invited to participate in a relaxed concert experience at the Military Communications and Electronics Museum at CFB Kingston to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada. The Canada 150 Through Music Event provided a unique alternative to traditional Canada Day celebrations, and was inclusive to individuals of all ages and abilities. The event was planned in partnership with the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre (KMFRC), the Military Communications and Electronics Museum, and the Seniors Association Kingston Region. The 250 guests were entertained with a wide variety of unique performances which included a puppet show, a classical music trio, an interactive drum circle, an accordion duo, Spanish guitar, and the Princess of Wales Own Regiment band, which resonated throughout the spacious museum venue. Guests were also treated to celebratory cupcakes from Bennett’s Valumart that were arranged to look like the official Canada 150 Maple Leaf Logo.
To ensure that guests could access the event without barriers, busing was provided from the Seniors Association and the KMFRC. Mats were provided at two of the performance spaces to allow children to sit or lay down comfortably. For some, it was the first time in years that they had participated in a Canada Day event. Guests appreciated the bilingual advertising, high-quality performances, air conditioned space, and free admission.
Many of the families who attended the event expressed how thrilled they were to have the option to celebrate Canada Day in an environment that was indoors, away from large crowds, and inclusive to individuals with special needs. For some individuals with exceptionalities, crowded, loud events can be overwhelming. This alternative, relaxed environment allowed families to come and go as they pleased, while enjoying the music and the exhibits at the museum. One of the families provided feedback that they deeply appreciated the relaxed atmosphere because it provided an opportunity for their child, who uses a wheelchair, to lay down on the mats that were available and enjoy the puppet show and the music. She was grateful that her child was able to safely stretch out on the mats and watch the show with the other children.
Another highlight of the event was the involvement of the puppet troop. The puppet troop performed a lively show that was entertaining for people of all ages. The actors in the Gentle Wings Puppet Troop also had special needs. Our military families were very excited to be a part of such an inclusive event celebrating Canadians of all abilities. Overall, the military families and their children with special needs were impacted in a positive way by having an alternative and safe option to celebrate Canada Day that was both welcoming and entertaining for every member of the family. For individuals with special needs, traditional community events such as block parties, fireworks, or large crowds, can be too overwhelming or sometimes unsafe to participate in. I hope that this may become a reoccurring event, and I believe that the positive feedback from the attendees will further increase participation in the coming years.
Overall, the event was a success that guests of all ages were able to enjoy. Roger, a member of the Seniors Association Kingston Region, stated that “The July 1 concert event surpassed my expectations, the local talent, the decorations, the festive atmosphere, free gifts and colourful cupcakes! For seniors to be bused to and from a free event and enjoy it indoors in an air conditioned environment was a wonderful experience. The staff and volunteers of the partner organizations are to be complimented on a very successful event. I sure hope it becomes an annual occurrence because I will be there!”
Thanks to the generous grant of the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a partnership of the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area, the City of Kingston and the Government of Canada, the hard work of the collaborating partners, and the time donated by the volunteers, the Canada 150 Through Music event was able to provide an entertaining and inclusive celebration for individuals of all ages to enjoy.
By: Kylie Castro, KMFRC