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Burnaby afterschool program uses art, acting and rock n' roll to help kids succeed

Burnaby, BC, May 19, 2015 - Two local schools are encouraging students to pick up paint brushes and guitar picks to positively impact attendance, achievement and work habits. Thanks to a $13,000 grant from the Westminster Savings Foundation, more than 250 youth are graduating from the Connecting with the Arts after-school arts program at Morley and Edmonds elementary schools this June.

The eight-week Connecting with the Arts after-school program uses visual arts, dance, drama and rock band classes to help youth in Grades 1 -7 to develop social and emotional skills and form important friendships.

"For those kids who haven't found their place through academics or athletics, this program can be their avenue to connect with the school, come out of their shell and have some fun," says Lana Horton, Youth Worker, Morley Elementary. "One student said that because of rock school, they now look forward to coming to school on Mondays."

The program runs throughout the school year, with eight-week units focusing on each art form. Organizers noticed that through these periods of focused commitment, student work habits as well as their relationship with fellow participants and the larger school community had improved.

"The arts can be incredibly effective in providing a structure for students to learn new skills and build relationships with their peers and the school community," says Morley principal, Hal Wall. "Through the program, we see students that are anxious, discouraged and frustrated become students that look forward to coming to school and spending time with their friends."

"By giving kids access to the creativity and personal expression that art offers early on, we can positively impact their lives and the community at large," says Gavin Toy, Westminster Savings President and CEO. "At Westminster Savings, we believe that involvement in the arts and active living leads to better balance, and that's what we're all about."

To thank the local community for its support, the Connecting with the Arts students will be holding a year-end performance at Morley elementary on May 27, 2015.

Connecting with the Arts Community Show

1 p.m. to 2 p.m., May 27
Morley Elementary, 7355 Morley St, Burnaby, BC

Westminster Savings is supporting the Connecting with the Arts after-school program as part of Project Better Balance, a community investment program to help individuals and families achieve better balance in their lives by providing greater access for participation in the arts and active living. Information about Westminster Savings' Project Better Balance program is available at

About Westminster Savings

At $3.2 billion in assets under management, more than 55,000 members and 393 employees, Westminster Savings is amongst the largest credit unions in Canada. Known for its customer and community focus, people oriented culture, and sound financial and operating practices, Westminster Savings provides a full range of retail, commercial, leasing and wealth management solutions to meet its customers' evolving needs. In 2014, Westminster Savings was named as one of the Best 50 Employers in Canada for the third consecutive year in a study by a global human resources consulting firm, Aon Hewitt.

About the Burnaby School District

Burnaby School District is the fourth largest public school district in the province with 49 schools including Morley Elementary and Edmonds Community School. The District is committed to providing all students with a wide variety of innovative, high-quality programs to ensure student achievement in areas that include academics, athletics, trades training, visual and performing arts, social responsibility and leadership.

For more information

Cathryn Tucker
Manager, Corporate and Internal Communications
Westminster Savings

Jodie Wilson
Communications Manager
Burnaby School District
604-296-6900 ext. 661110