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Sounds of Summer resonate for York Region seniors


For Erin and Ralph, two seniors living in long-term care facilities in Markham, their memories of the Summer of ‘21 will be sweet music to their ears.


While COVID-19 restrictions created mental health struggles, social isolation, and fear against disease and health complications for many seniors, Erin and Ralph spent their summer playing music at weekly workshops and performing with youth musicians at Students for Music and Wellness/York Region Arts Council concerts.

“For them, this summer will be the one where they sang a duet together and had the rare opportunity to do what they love once again – make music,” said Students for Music and Wellness member Yusuf Nissar.

Nissar and his SFMW colleagues’ The Sounds of Summer project received a 2021 York Region Arts Council microgrant to support a project that made a successful debut the previous year.

In 2020, they organized a concert series to fill the gap left by the lack of recreational therapy during the pandemic. “The Sounds of Summer” built on the success of that original concert series by featuring student musicians as well as workshops that allowed long term care residents to make music with their peers.

“The YRAC microgrant gave the gift of music to hundreds of seniors over the course of the summer.. With YRAC’s help, in-person concerts and workshops were led by a team of 20 youth organizers, and 30 youth musicians,” said Nissar.

With increased funding, a weekly workshop series was created to engage seniors living in Long-Term Care through regular programming.Twenty-one outdoor workshops were held onsite at homes and a five-concert tour capped the program.

This is the first in a series of profiles on the 2021 York Region Arts Council microgrant recipients. To find out more about the York Region Arts Council or subscribe to the YRAC newsletter, click here.

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