Guitarist Joel Reid readily admits Weston is a community dear to his heart. “Music started for me in Weston. I went to high school in Weston, and started my career there at a community centre,” he says. Soon, Joel, his wife and their baby daughter will be moving into their new home in Artscape Weston Common.
“When I first heard about the project I thought wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to continue to develop my craft in the neighbourhood with my young family.”
In 2013, Joel’s passion for music, his extensive experience in the community development sector and his skill working with youth led him to found SoundCheck Youth Arts. The grassroots organization has helped young people in the Weston-Mount Dennis community reach their full potential through music. They started by offering music lessons and access to free instruments once a week to young people in the area and just worked with a small but dedicated team of volunteers.
Like a sound check, the idea behind the organization revolves around the theme of preparation. “Not only do we teach young people to be prepared as musicians, equipping them with mentorship, making sure they have access to instruments and equipment to record their music but also we serve as a springboard for teaching life skills and preparedness for whatever they’re going through whether that’s school or work,” explains Joel.
Over the past five years, under Joel’s leadership, SoundCheck Youth Arts has continued to grow from strength to strength with a range of programs serving children from ages 6 to 12 and youth up to the age of 27. This year they’re launching a number of new programs including “Shed Night”, a jam session format where youth have an opportunity to meet and connect with other musicians.
“Weston is such a vibrant community with so much creativity in the neighbourhood,” says Joel. “’I’m glad it was finally recognized in the creation of Artscape Weston Common, a cultural centre where there are great resources that folks can use, and opportunities to network and enjoy a space for creativity.”
To learn more about Joel’s work with SoundCheck Youth Arts visit http://soundcheckyouth.com/