On October 24 the Fall Celebration 2019 was held at Markham Flato Theatre, in support of the Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) Foundation. This concert featured performances from five different High School bands including Unionville High School, Bur Oak Secondary School, Markville Secondary School, Markham District High School, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School. Each of these wind ensembles performed 2 spectacular pieces, one of which was conducted by special guest conductor Dr. Shelley Axelson.
Dr. Axelson has an undergraduate degree in Music Education from the University of South Florida, a Masters in conducting from the University of Michigan, and a Doctor of Music degree in conduction from Northwestern University. She is now the Assistant Professor of Music Education and the Director of the Symphonic Band at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. When asked about how it felt conducting for this special concert, she noted that “It was incredible to conduct all those bands, I have not done a concert like this where I conducted five different groups. Doing all the clinics and going from one school to the next was great, but then to come back at the end of the whole week and do a piece with each one, it was very difficult. I saw you guys, what seems like years ago, and then I didn’t see you again until tonight. To hear you make that music again and know that that would be the last time was a really unique experience.”
These students and teachers shared their talents while raising money and awareness to support youth who struggle with mental health. Alexandria Fernandes Hoyt from the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation explains how we are having mental health and addiction crisis in Ontario. Research shows that there is a 17% increase in emergency room visits from youth seeking services, and 1 in 3 parents are seeking mental health services for their child. Out of these, 4 in 10 parents didn’t receive help or are on waiting lists. To reduce these wait lines and offer more support, the MSH Foundation is launching its ATLAS program this September. This unique initiative includes two classrooms run by York Region District School Boards, a team of multidisciplinary child and youth workers, social workers, and psychiatrists. This school day supports teens struggling with depression and anxiety who are having significant difficulty attending school. The curriculum focuses on personal health and wellbeing, healthy eating, movement, resiliency, leadership, and cooperative skills. The money raised from this event goes to support programs like these, and provide equipment for the hospital. “It is really apparent that the students and teaching staff here have been working very hard to put together this needed and appreciated fundraiser. It is a great honour to be here today and see how a community of youth is giving their time, and sharing their talents to not only raise awareness of mental illness, but also to financially support youth who struggle with it.”
These schools have organized multiple fundraising events to raise over $60,000 annually for the Markham Stouffville Hospital. These contributions have helped make a difference by creating a positive impact on our community’s health, and supporting everyone who relies on the Markham Stouffville Hospital every day!
Photo: Dr. Axelson conducting Pierre Elliot Trudeau High School’s Grade 12 Wind Symphony