After recently finishing her last year of dance in order to spend more time volunteering in the community for her Grade 12 year, Salish Secondary student Madison Chilcott decided to use her love of dance toward her volunteer hours.
Madison said her grandma used to come to her and her sister Camryn’s dance competitions all the time.
“She would always just love watching the dancing,” Madison said. “It lightened up her day, so I thought that every senior deserved it in the community. Not a lot of them have that chance to see their grandchildren because they can’t leave their (seniors) home a lot of the time. I thought it was kind of needed that we bring it to them.”
With that, Madison and some friends started Yester Years Productions, which is a non-profit organization to create productions for local retirement care homes in Surrey and White Rock.
“We’re just trying to benefit the two generations, mainly,” she said. “The students, it’s good for them because… say they’re not a performer, like they’ve never performed and they just want to give it a shot and try singing, try dancing, they can do that with this. It’s not like you have to enrol in something and pay and not even know if you want to do it. You can just give it a shot. And you’re volunteering at the same time, so you feel good doing it.
“The seniors obviously, it’s really good for them. Laughter, even, can add years to your life too. It’s kind of a thing where we’re bringing happiness to them and a lot of them don’t have that in these retirement homes. I felt like they deserved it.”
Madison said she and Camryn, who is choreographing the routines, went with their grandma to visit senior homes over the summer to pitch the project and figure out what kind of space they’d be able to work with. Madison also said a recreation manager at one of the homes has also provided the group with information on how to work with seniors with dementia.
“That’s something we’re new to. We don’t really know how to work with seniors with dementia,” Madison said. “Everybody’s been really supportive, not only people our age, but adults too.”
Despite only starting work on the project in June, with only one in-person practice, Madison said there has been “such a positive response.”
“Everybody’s been chipping in, like little parts too, which is really awesome… I mean I’m doing a lot of it, but everybody’s kind of putting in their own input on it and it’s coming along.”
Diego Armstrong, a Grade 11 student at Salish Secondary, said he was a bit “skeptical” when Madison suggested the idea about “how many people would want to help and how much input they’d have,” but he said that “so far everyone is very involved.”
For Diego, a big part of joining was needing volunteer hours to graduate high school.
“I thought the perfect way to do that is some cool idea with my friends,” said Diego, adding that it’s also for a “good cause.”
Now, Yester Years Productions has started a GoFundMe, with a fundraising goal of $1,500 for costumes, accessories, props, portable speakers and space rentals.
“Definitely, that’s a big cost. They’re pretty expensive. We want accessories and everything too and wigs,” she said. “The costumes will probably get more elaborate through the year as we raise more money… We’re planning on just gradually making it better.”
Madison said the group is also hoping to do fundraisers, such as a bottle drive to help raise money.
People can donate to the GoFundMe at gofundme.com/f/help-bring-seniors-amp-teens-together.
For more information on Yester Years Productions, or how to get involved, visit yesteryearsproduct.wixsite.com/ourprograms.