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New WCS program provides subsidies for youth activities in arts and culture

Financial constraints shouldn’t be a barrier to artistic expression, which is an important aspect of youth development. With that in mind, Woolwich Community Services has launched a new program to make creative outlets more accessible to young residents, drawing on the financial support of Lanxess.

The Elmira chemical company has long responded to the agency’s calls for support, notes WCS executive director Kelly Christie.

“Lanxess has always been a supporter of Woolwich Community Services, with different funding support. Their staff supports our Christmas goodwill, our food hamper program, and they will continue to do that. But the company has done some redirecting with their funding, and one of the areas that they can support is arts and culture, which is one of their focuses,” she said. “Through the different programs that we offer, as well as community services, we know that there’s a gap in providing support to low-income earning households to have their children enrolled in music and art programming. So, we had completed a request to Lanxess back in the fall to see if they can help fund those initiatives, and they approved the request.”

WCS executive director Kelly Christie is happy to help kids get creative via the new Lanxess Learners Program. [Damon MacLean]

The Lanxess Learners Program now in place, there is some $20,000 in the fund pool up for grabs for those artistically inclined children in the townships. It provides a financial subsidy for art- and culture-based activities such as singing, art and music lessons, pottery, learning a language, drama, photography, writing, woodworking, sewing and science. The program is available to families with children between the ages of 4 and 18 living within the WCS catchment area.

Those accepted into the program have to meet the criteria, including family income, but there is some flexibility in the types of activities covered, said Christie, noting the activities themselves can be held outside the townships, say in Kitchener or Waterloo.

“They would call in to have a brief application; we confirm residency and financial eligibility, and then the parent would enroll the child in the program. We can, with the parents’ permission, call ahead and let the program know that yes, we’re going to get a cheque to them to hold the spot – if it’s a time thing, we don’t want them to lose the spot because we have to get the [payment] to the program,” she explained.

WCS hopes to follow up with youth throughout the program to see what they create or how their skills develop, but it is not a requirement.

Christie encourages anyone interested to apply. For more information, call WCS at 519-669-5139.

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