This year, thanks to the generosity of our much appreciated funders and donors, It All StArts with Me provided over 1500 underprivileged children and youth the opportunity to engage with the arts, right here in Edmonton. There were 11 different events that the youth attended at a variety of venues, including the Citadel, the Edmonton Ballet, the Edmonton Opera, The Winspear, the Art Gallery of Alberta, CKUA, University of Alberta Botanical Gardens, and the Alberta Legislature. Without this program, most of these kids would never receive the opportunity to see the ballet, or watch an opera. It’s truly a unique and magical experience for them.

All of this was made possible by a group of like-minded individuals who love art, have a strong sense of community, and want to improve the lives of children who have less. We recognize the collaborative efforts of Robert Rosen, Bob Bowhay, Ken Regan, Brian Dunsmore, Robert and Carrie Markowski, Margaret Bateman, Sheila Rich, Liz O’Neill, and the many others who believed that every child should be given the opportunity to dream.

If you speak with a handful of these individuals they’ll tell you that every child deserves to be recognized – but for children living in poverty this is sometimes not the reality. Did you know that there are over 40,000 children living in poverty in our region? That’s the Rogers Arena filled to capacity nearly two and a half times over. For the kids who fall into this demographic, isolation and a lack of connectedness can lead to a disruption in development and even delinquent behaviour. That’s why It All StArts with Me is such an incredibly special program. It takes children who have nothing and tells them they are worth something, that they are recognized and valued, and that they deserve opportunities like this. Suddenly, children who are hidden because of their circumstances are told that they are important. They are given permission and acceptance to dream. This is the philosophy of the group that founded It All StArts with Me. They didn’t do it to be recognized by the community – they give of their time and their resources so that children can learn to dream.

It’s humbling to hear their thoughts and see the impact of their philanthropy. Here at BGCBigs we are grateful for their continued support and loyalty to this program. Every year it continues to grow and more and more children are given the opportunity to explore the arts and feel accepted by this community. This unique group of people of touching hearts and changing futures. We can’t wait to see what comes next.

This article is part 3 of 3 in the It All StArts With Me Series

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