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Kaleidoscope in the Schools program continues reach across York Region

September 7, 2023   ·   0 Comments

More children and youth in York Region will be able to explore the world around them from the comfort of their own school as the Aurora Cultural Centre ramps up its Kaleidoscope in the Schools (KITS) program.

One of the few programs offered by the Centre that is school-based, the initiative brought spectacular performances and opportunities into 36 York Region schools in the 2022-2023 school year, but come September this will expand to 52 schools.

“We’re curating nine performing arts shows to schools in York Region, 52 schools that are underserved,” says Aitak Sorahitalab, Education Coordinator for the Aurora Cultural Centre, noting that underserved schools have been identified by both the York Region District School Board and the York Catholic District School Board.

The Kaleidoscope in the Schools program was first developed by the Aurora Cultural Centre following a significant donation from long-time supporters Isobel Ralston and Jan Oudenes.

An immediate success, subsequent sponsorship has come from the Town of Aurora and the Ontario Trillium Foundation to expand the program well beyond Aurora.

KITS was founded with the aim of providing fully-subsidized in-school performances and workshops by professional performing artists.

Performances are tied to curriculum set out by Ontario’s Ministry of Education and are tailored to “afford every child…from JK to Grade 4 the opportunity to participate in a live performing arts production.

“We believe the KITS program opens doors to creativity and tolerance and creates lasting positive memories through a shared experience of the arts,” says the Centre. “The Aurora Cultural Centre feels a strong responsibility that arts experiences should be available to all children regardless of their background, as these experiences have the ability to shape a child’s values, open them up to new ideas and cultures, and make them more compassionate as they grow to be the next generation of leaders. The artistic work we bring into the schools mirrors our community’s diversity so students see themselves on stage or learn about new cultures and traditions. We believe the arts have the power to engage, inspire, and transform each and every individual. The arts spark creative thought, transform perception, and provide a catalyst for conversation. It engages the mind and body, awakens the senses, and calms the spirit.”

The Centre adds bringing productions into schools serves several objectives.

“By removing the cost to the parent/guardian, the program allows children of all economic backgrounds to have equitable access to the arts regardless of their home environment/situation; children with exceptionalities including accessibility needs, behavior challenges, and learning disabilities can attend the performances from the comfort of their school environment; we mitigate the challenges of offsite activities for many schools where bus costs and logistics become major barriers by bringing the production into the school; we will reach a larger audience of children than can currently fit in our performance space; and the KITS program allows the Aurora Cultural Centre to break out of our four walls and have a deeper impact in the community.”

York Region schools began registering for the program in late July and those who are interested in doing so can visit

“Schools can reach out to us to see if they are on the list [provided to us],” says Sorahitalab. “Even if they are not, we can keep them on our list for our next round in 2025.”

By Brock Weir
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter



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