On the morning of Friday, June 12th, two dozen 13-year-olds made their trek to the gymnasium at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre. Some travelled from the downtown core, while others journeyed by bus from Scarborough in the east. It was their final day of DAREarts’ core program, and their chance to showcase their hard work and commitment to the values of Discipline, Action, Responsibility, and Excellence.
The teens were jubilant as they started their rehearsals, and knew how special this opportunity was long before the day arrived. Because of a fundraising shortfall, they were the only class in the DAREarts Spring program to have a standalone showcase for their community, families, and peers. Our supporters, however, came to the rescue to save the day for the teens! In this downsized showcase, our grade eight class was dared to represent nearly 150 DAREarts Delegates from across the city.
After rehearsal, the class gathered backstage to meet with DAREarts Grad Anthony Elijah, currently a university student studying mathematics, who inspired them with his own story of perseverance and how the DAREarts values have become an important mantra to him for overcoming challenges. With this dose of encouragement, the teens took to the stage in front of a packed audience of their families, peers, teachers, community members, and supporters.
The show started with a dramatized rendition of Tupac Shakur’s poem “And 2morrow”, performed line by line as the teens added dramatic flair. Delegates Sylvia and Lia then moved to centre stage, performing a powerful spoken word piece about equality written by Sylvia. Afterward, the music was cued and the class combined their voices to sing “Don’t Stop Me”, a song written and recorded by the delegates in only four hours on their Music Day with Juno-nominated musician Glenn Marais.
The audience was then treated to a short film created by the teens on their Media Day, where they only had four hours to write, direct, act, and film their own team creation at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. You can view their film, “Drama Bomb”, below:
One by one, the teens moved back onto the stage as their own recorded voices played over the speaker: “I am euphoric. I am creative. I am artistic. I am incandescent. I am charismatic. I am Infamous. I am generous. I am constructive. I am unique. I am strong. I am kind. I am individual. I am confident. I am human. I am unpredictable. I am gregarious. I am eccentric. I am odd. I am different. I am DAREarts!” As the bass of the music began the teens perfectly danced their b-boy/b-girl choreography, learned from b-boy Lee Pham on their Dance Day!
After their finale, the graduating class was presented with special DAREarts medallions, symbols of their commitment to excellence as they move forward in life. The Judith Teller Award and Norman & Margaret Field Award were then presented to three delegates. Special guest Monika Stevenson then presented the William Stevenson Award for Excellence in Writing to DAREarts grad Kayly Garnier-Wells.
We also extended a very special thank you to our long-time volunteer Alan Dunlop, who has contributed a tremendous amount of time and energy to take amazing photographs of our youth in motion, and also to Coordinator of Volunteers Stephanie Haseman, who has left her role but is still very much part of the DAREarts family. The contributions of our sponsors, our volunteers, and all of our supporters cannot be emphasized enough, as all of this would not be possible for our youth without their generosity!
Each year, our kids join us from a wide array of backgrounds, and each has a unique reason as to why they are with us at DAREarts. At DAREarts they learn to embrace difference and to be proud of their own excellent selves, finding their own inner strengths as they encounter daring experiences outside of their day-to-day lives. By the time they step foot on stage for their showcase, they have cemented a positive identity as a young leader. In their hands, the future is looking bright!
DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower youth at-risk to become leaders. Our lead sponsors are Northbridge Insurance, Guy Carpenter, Scotiabank, Ontario Arts Council, and Ontario Trillium Foundation.