Christmas concert to benefit children of all abilities

Although it’s snowy outside, some community members have visions of sunny days at the playground on their minds.

Christ Church Cathedral’s arts program, Cathedral Arts, along with the Bytown Rotary Club, will hold a fundraiser concert at 8 p.m., Dec. 20, to help finish building a playground for children of all abilities.

“The concert is our gift to the children of Ottawa,” says John Dennison, head of Cathedral Arts. “What better gift is there than giving all children the ability to play?”

The playground, at Brewer Park, just across the street from Carleton University, will offer structures fully accessible to children of all physical and intellectual abilities, says Rotarian Ernie Potechin. When it’s complete it will be the largest playground of its kind in Ottawa.

“That’s really exciting because we’re trying to start a Best Buddies chapter at Carleton,” says Bridget Glassco, head of Best Buddies Ottawa, a national organization that fosters one-on-one friendships between students and individuals with intellectual and sometimes physical disabilities.

The organization has 165 chapters across Canada, with eight in Ottawa. Six of those chapters are at local high schools, the other two are at Algonquian College and the University of Ottawa.

“Even though the chapters are based in schools, the Buddies make friendships that go outside school,” says Glassco. “That’s why spaces like this playground are so great.”

The three-year construction of the play space is almost finished, says Potechin. It has cost about $750,000 and all of that money came from fundraisers.

“This concert will help us to finish paying for the playground,” Potechin says. It will be completely finished this spring.

Rotary club president Fay Campbell, has every hope the concert will be a success. It is Christmas time, she says, so people are more in the mood to give.

“People can go enjoy a Christmas concert and support a great cause at the same time,” she said.

Outreach through music is one of the main goals of the Cathedral Arts program, says Dennison. Other concerts have raised awareness for illnesses such as sickle cell anemia or supported organizations such as the Perley Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre.

Participating musicians include Canadian soprano Samantha Louis-Jean, award-winning harpsichordist Luc Beausejour and trumpeter Paul Merkelo. The concert will also feature the church’s own men and boys choir.

Christ Church Cathedral is located at 420 Sparks St.