When 24 year old Abbotsford resident Nicole Provost started the MayDay Club Youth Choir in 2015, she had no idea the possibilities of friends and opportunities it would bring.
“I was just out of high school and I didn’t fit in at work and was falling in with the wrong crowd,” Provost said. “I basically recruited all the people I trusted to form a board of directors. We were so nervous, but we were a group of people that came together who now live for each other.”
The result of her efforts includes a 42 person choir made up of members from all across the Lower Mainland, rehearsals held twice a week, countless live performances including a Global telethon, and an upcoming album sponsored by Bryan Adams’ studio.
Proving both she and her group and more than able to have an impactful singing career – MayDay Choir is comprised of members affected by autism. The choir’s next performance is at Langley’s Day of Pos-Abilities, a day aimed at celebrating everyone’s abilities, this Saturday, Aug. 10.
“People with disabilities, especially in schools, are seen as a write off,” Provost said. “We want to change [people’s] thought process and show we can move past out limits.”
The day is meant to spread awareness to the public about people living with varying disabilities and how many stigmas aren’t what they seem.
Zosia Ettenberg, executive director and creator of Langley Pos-Abilities, said this is the 6th year the non-profit society has held the event.
“The volunteers set up this 20 by 40 foot wheelchair obstacle course which people can try,” Ettenberg said. “It is built according to code which shows is not adequate for people to get around.”
Ettenberg also said various exercises and examples for attendees to “try on a disability” will be offered again to give able-bodied people a glimpse of how challenging some typically mundane tasks can become.
“I’ll tie your dominant arm to your chest – now you are a stroke victim or an amputee. Then I’ll give you a little package of jam and tell you to open it which becomes not so simple. Once you get it open, you’ll feel very proud, but then I’ll give you crackers to spread it on,” Ettenberg explained. “Now they get it. You still live, you just have to do it a little differently.”
Beyond the challenges, Ettenberg said the day is also meant to be fun. A barbecue, children’s bouncy castle, and artisan market will also be part of the afternoon.
Other entertainers performing alongside MayDay Choir on the Spirit Square Stage include singer/songwriter Kristina Shelden, the Rue Saint Georges Saxophone Ensemble, Paws 2 Dance, and Maria Hillmer Mexican Dancers.
Provost said MayDay Choir performed for the Pos-Abilities event for the first time last year where she said everyone was amazed by the friendly atmosphere and many things to do.
Something different this year for the Day of Pos-Abilities is the presence of local politicians and candidates who will be setting up information booths throughout the park.
“It gives people a chance to ask ‘what are you going to do or offer for people with disabilities’,” Ettenberg said, adding that each one will at the very least take part in the wheelchair obstacle course.
Pos-Abilities first ever online auction to raise funds for the society launched online with a selection of items to bid on. People can find out more at www.pos-abilities.org.
“There is the famous story of the blind man who was standing on the street,” Ettenberg recited. “Someone came over and helped him across the street but he asked ‘what did you do that for? I wanted to go the other way.’ The event can show people how they can become more aware and observant. Don’t assume, ask ‘may I help you’.”
The Day of Pos-Abilities runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Douglas Park in Langley City. Everyone of all ages are welcome to attend; admission is free as the day is facilitated by volunteers.
MayDay Club Youth Choir perform their set at 1:45 to 2:45 p.m.
Provost said their set list of cover songs range from Lady Gaga to Ozzy Osbourne, as well as group favourite “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman (2017) soundtrack.
“We sing about perseverance and staying strong against bullying,” Provost added. “We’re united by songs that reflect that. I think everyone can relate at feeling like an outsider.”
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