Syrian Newcomers Program - Seussical, Nov. 2016
Photo features: Syrian families visit Young People’s Theatre and take part in pre-show activities before seeing the musical production, Seussical (November, 2016).

YPT Welcomes Syrian Families to Toronto!

During our 2016/17 Season, Young People’s Theatre was pleased to offer 341 free tickets to Syrian newcomers in the Toronto area, thanks to the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and Sun Life Financial.

We welcomed many sponsor families and groups from support organizations such as:

Lifeline Syria
Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Services
Toronto West Refugee Collective
Ripple Refugee Project
Arab Community Centre of Toronto
Canadian Center for Victims of Torture
Brampton Multicultural Community Centre

We would like to particularly thank our team of Arabic Speaking Welcome Hosts and Translators who volunteered and dedicated their time to support this initiative.

Click here to read more about YPT’s participation in the Canada Council’s new arts initiative welcoming refugees to the country.

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Syrian families meet with cast members Damien Atkins (top row, second from the left) and Matthew Brown (top row, fourth from the left) while at YPT with Kids Up Front to see the production, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang (2015).

Feedback from Participants in YPT’s Welcome to the Arts Initiative:

“Everything worked perfectly. There were nine Syrian refugee family members ranging in age from 4 to 65, and two sponsors accompanying them…We were all seated in one row and the volunteer interpreter (who had been assigned another seat) switched with one of the sponsors so she could sit between the two family members with the least English and explain highlights of what was happening during the show. Everyone had a wonderful time. The grandmother (was moved by the play) and became very emotional about the loss of family members, remembering her own losses. Having the interpreter there sitting next to her during the play was wonderful.” – Naomi Alboim, Lifeline Syria

“I am very appreciative of the opportunity to be able to take the family to the production. It gives them a sense of what is available in Toronto on the culture front.” – Arab Community Centre of Toronto

“The children sat on the edges of their chairs and laughed, clapped and groaned throughout the play [James and the Giant Peach]. One of the children said she liked the play very much, but didn’t like the people – a reference to Sponger and Spiker who she thought used bad words. We were thrilled to hear her say that because it showed us she understood enough of the language to make sense of the play. The two boys were the most excited and had numerous questions for my husband throughout the play. They felt comfortable enough to put up their hands up during the Q/A. I am truly grateful that this opportunity came up to take them to the event as it is not something the family would do on their own.” – Dalia Taylor, Trinity Church, Streetsville