After School, Before School, and Lunch Programs
YONA Sistema and YONA Explorers Programs
"It's a common scene. A school bell cuts through the afternoon's silence, and an army of animated children with multicolored jackets and too-large backpacks appear, scurrying towards school buses and parents with a host of stories on their lips. What's perhaps less familiar, however, are the events surrounding a number of our students for whom the afternoon has only begun.
The Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta - Sistema (YONA-Sistema) is modeled on the ground-breaking EI Sistema project in Venezuela which uses music for social change, and teaches the values of unity, harmony, and mutual compassion. Five days a week, for almost three hours each day, fifty-four students receive group instrument lessons, led by qualified teachers, at no cost to their families. In this caring environment, students are given nutritious snacks, homework help, and engage in free play and physical activity, and are then bussed safely home. Another twenty-four students meet once per week in a "YONA Explorers" program, building their musical and social skills in an introduction to the YONA philosophy.
By engaging students in a peer-mentored orchestra format, the YONA program has flourished in achieving what was initially envisioned in Venezuela, and has altered the lives of countless individuals and communities in multiple countries and cities. Indeed, this is a very exciting thing to be a part of."