OrKidstra outlines strategy to bring music to more children

Ottawa’s OrKidstra is aiming to broaden its reach in the community with a strategic plan that aims to help more than 1,600 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds experience the joy of making music by the year 2032.

If fulfilled, the plan, Crescendo: Strategy 2032, would more than double the young people served by the organization across a much larger swath of the city.

When OrKidstra started in 2007, 27 children from under-served areas of Ottawa, were enrolled, the organization said in a media release. Today the organization serves more than 700 students, from five to 18, from more than 42 cultural and linguistic backgrounds. OrKidstra operates two after-school ‘hubs’ in Centretown West and in the Vanier South-Overbroo-McArthur areas. Over the past five years, OrKidstra has seen a 127 per cent increase in the number of applicants to its free after-school programs.

The group says that its graduates all have completed high school and gone on to post-secondary education in fields from neuroscience to marketing, biology, music, education, computer science and international law.

Now it wants to expand its activities into other neighbourhoods when children may not have access to programs in the arts and other activities that encourage staying in school and help slow down or stop anti-social activities.

The organization noted in its release that studies show that more than 26,000 Ottawa children live in poverty. These children live in places such as Carlington, Ledbury-Heron Gate-Ridgemont and Bayshore-Belltown where the child-poverty level hovers around 50 per cent when the average in the city is 16 per cent.

“Our goal is and has always been social development: using music as the instrument of change to achieve many outcomes that help today’s child, the adults they will become and the community in which they live,” OrKidstra Chair Claire Marshall said in the release.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.