BY: KRISTINA RAMCHARRAN
The Trust 15 Annual Gala was a fun filled spectacular, showcasing the talent of Rexdale students. More importantly, it served one great purpose of spreading awareness of children growing up in struggling communities and how one very special woman has changed their lives. Marcia Brown, the executive director of Trust 15.
The fifth annual gala, which took place on April 22nd at the Woodbine banquet hall in Rexdale featured appearances and support from some of Toronto’s most notable people. Mayor John Tory, MPP Patrick Brown and Councillor Doug Ford were all present to represent the political community, and praise Brown for her great work in the community.
The night was teeming with excitement as the students took part in various performances of song, dance, and some powerful spoken word pieces. Each student had the chance to shine and share their story through their art form of choice.
A special video message from the Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau was displayed for attendees, as she expressed her love for Brown’s efforts in the community and as well as her well wishes for the students. “I was so honored last time, to meet some of the Trust 15 students and I’m grateful I was able to hear some of their inspiring voices,” said Gregoire-Trudeau.
Last year, Brown’s students went on a trip to visit Gregoire-Trudeau at Parliament Hill, where they won her heart through a presentation of performances. “The Trust 15 program has helped so many Canadian children strive to achieve their best.”
One of the many highlights of the night was none other than the keynote speech given by CBC News anchor Dwight Drummond. Drummond took to the mic to speak about his own struggle growing up in an impoverished community. As a teenager, Drummond grew up in the Jane and Finch community and compared his struggles to the ones the Rexdale students are currently facing.
“Having a strong support system like Trust 15 means so much, because I didn’t have a program like this while growing up,” said Drummond. He noted that his involvement in the program, as well as the involvement of other notable people in the community, serves as a great influence to the students of Rexdale. “That’s why groups like Trust 15 are so important, providing that nurturing environment for our young people, helping them to realize it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”
Trust 15 was also sure to recognize those who have made contributions to the community, awarding them for their work with their very own awards and medals. Of the recipients included Marci Ien of CTV’s The Social.
As the night came to a close, the students of Trust 15, including the alumni, all came together for one great performance. Reflecting on the success of their fifth annual gala, Marcia Brown said she is really proud of her students.
“Well, you know after running my program for four years I wanted to do something special in the 5th year. And I decided to tell the kids listen you guys have to take this to another notch. We can’t be like the same thing that’s always in the same community,” said Brown on the initial plans they had for the gala.
Brown said that the gala took about 8-9 weeks of planning for the performances and entertainment that her students presented. Although the practice and preparations were done months in advance, Brown added that the students showed great enthusiasm to perfect their performances.
On future plans for this year for the Trust 15 program, Brown said “this summer I’m having close to 95 kids joining the summer program. We have places we are going to travel, we are going to Queens Park, to Stratford.” Brown urges any other children in the community facing struggles to reach out to her. “I want to make sure their voices are heard,” she added.