By PAT WATSON
A youth group that had its start practicing in the halls and stairwells of the highrises on Tobermory Drive in northwest Toronto celebrated the next stage in its growing success last week by doing what it does best – throwing down some of the most positive lyrics you could hope to hear from a dedicated group of musical youth.
The celebration marked the first open house of the Tobermory ‘New Music’ Program, guided by Steven Fullerton, which has been provided a space by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation at 15 Tobermory from which TNMP will operate for the next year.
To hear seven-year-old Nekisha Green’s strong voice carrying her confident lyrics is to understand the enthusiasm with which the group’s performances have been welcomed at local community events for the past two years. At the open house, the wealth of talent among the young members was exciting and impressive.
Also doing their best to warm visitors at the celebration and keep the positive vibes ringing beyond the walls of the new centre out into the surrounding neighbourhood were Kishawn Brooks, 19, high energy entertainer Shawna Stewart, duo the Low Pros and ‘Heavy Steve’ who laid out a heartfelt and sentimental homage to his mother, just in time for Mother’s Day.
Fullerton says the program, which is strongly driven by its young members, and fosters leadership skills, self-confidence, and civic engagement, is growing in popularity with more young people interested in participating.
“Kids stopped me on the street asking to join the program (and) it was a problem because of the grassroots nature of the program and practice times and spaces never being confirmed. Now, we have progressed to the next level,” he told Share.
“We were originally asking to have a studio program as part of the recreation and after-school programs provided in the space, but now we have been given the whole space and time to ourselves, guaranteed for a year.”
Describing the new centre as “a great accomplishment,” Fullerton says TCHC is willing to expand the hours of the program and the space because TNMP is seen as a credible youth program that is attracting youth and the support and input of outside organizations.
Guest facilitators have included radio personality, DJ Power of FLOW 93.5’s “Outta Control” and Canadian rap star, Maestro Fresh Wes.
TNMP meets every Wednesday from 4 – 8 p.m. To learn more, e-mail email@example.com or call 416-893-7423. The TNMP website is www.myspace.com/tbygevents.