By Andrew Canino
The WFCYO enters its second year this fall. The orchestra was founded by LaSaundra Booth with her longtime friend Tanya Suggs in August 2013 in response to the problem of widely accessible orchestral instruction being unavailable to students in public schools. Booth and Suggs founded the WFCYO to “strengthen and sustain the orchestral landscape of the Town of Wake Forest by providing an array of diverse orchestral training programs for all youth.”
Booth, the orchestra’s executive director, has sacrificed much of her time and resources to build this program. She has, at times, emptied her personal savings to buy instruments for orchestra members.
The WFCYO has been a labor of love for Booth and Suggs, and their passion for the project shows in how successful they have been.
The WFCYO began its second year with a bang, earning itself a $1,200 grant from local radio station WCPE-FM’s Education Fund. The grant allowed the orchestra to buy sheet music and a cello, and to provide tuition assistance to students from low income families. With this grant money, the WFCYO was also able to fund many different projects, such as three sessions of summer camp this year in addition to fall and spring classes.
On top of enriching the lives of young boys and girls through the arts, WFCYO has a very strong position on inclusiveness. WFCYO makes it clear on their website that no aspiring member will be turned away due to the lack of an instrument or an inability to play.
Not only does this nonprofit help participants in the short-term by giving each child the opportunity to participate in a group activity, but a plethora of research suggests that these opportunities benefit children in the long-run as well.
The process of making music in a group setting activates both the left and right parts of the brain and calls upon many different skill sets, often at the same time. Research also indicates that music education helps increase I.Q. and neural activity in the brain. This suggests that many participants in WFCYO have a higher likelihood of success in other settings, such as in the classroom.
For more information about the orchestra, the work they do, and how to participate or donate, visit wfcyo.org.
Since its inception, WCPE’s Education Fund has awarded approximately $38,000 to music education entities primarily in the eastern half of North Carolina. For more information, visit theclassicalstation.org/features_education.shtml.