Mayday Club an Answer to a Distress Call
Much like playing a sport, singing in a choir is all about team work. Each individual has a part to sing and must know that part in order to support the rest of the team. It’s also important to have a strong and caring leader who knows how to support each member so that they collectively give their best. The Mayday Club Youth Choir has all of this and more.
The Mayday Club Youth Choir is an inclusive choir made up of people with and without disabilities. They perform contemporary music and while they have only been singing together since September 2016, they are already in demand and have several live performances to their credit. Last month, the choir was at Crew Studios in Vancouver making their first recording. Much of this success can be credited to the choir’s leader and the Mayday Club founder, Nicole Provost.
“I started the choir as a response to the lack of autism-related resources in the Fraser Valley,” she says, adding that the choir is not just for people who live with autism. “It’s become a place where people can belong with other people who are ‘quirky’ just like they are.”
It is this lack of resources that gives the choir its name – “Mayday” – the distress call response to much-needed opportunities for people with disabilities. Although the choir is one such resource, Nicole is very intentional about including people of all abilities in the choir. The choir meets on Sundays to rehearse and includes people with different levels of singing ability. There is a separate chamber choir for those who want to focus only on singing and there are drumming and dancing opportunities as well. The group also plans non-musical outings.
“We have been to the trampoline park, we’re going to go to the Cultas Lake Waterslides and we’re planning a day trip to Camp Luther to learn new songs, eat great food and do camp activities,” she says.
Nicole recently visited with participants of the Community Living Program Transitions, which supports people moving from youth to adult services. She shared her enthusiasm for the choir, invited the group to participate, adding that everyone was welcome regardless of their ability to sing.
Sylvia Dirks, whose daughter Amy sings in the choir, describes the choir as a place of excitement, love and connectedness. Amy participates in Choices and Connections, one of Communitas’ longest running services. Sylvia says that the Mayday Choir is another opportunity for Amy to be a part of her community.
“There is an incredible amount of trust there and it comes from Nicole,” Sylvia says. “There is no competition, everyone is equal. It’s unreal how the kids have grown. Some who wouldn’t sing at first were in the studio last month recording solos.”
For Amy, the choir has given her a wealth of benefits. Sylvia says she’s grown in confidence as she’s discovered abilities she didn’t know she had. She’s got a place to go on Sunday nights to just hang out and has developed friendships outside her family circle. She sometimes has anxiety about going but when she is there it disappears and she loves it.
“It is a safe place to grow and each person brings something unique,” Sylvia says.
The choir has sung at several events including Autism Awareness Day, Christmas Tree lighting celebrations, the recent Transition Fair in Abbotsford and more. The Mayday Club is also starting a new program in fall called True Match, which allows university students to fulfill practicum or volunteer requirements by pairing these students with a person who has disabilities. The intent is to help with the transition from high school into adulthood.
Nicole encourages anyone who is interested in the choir or in the True Match program to contact her to learn more.
“The best part of the Mayday Club is the people who are in it,” she says. “I hope others will come and find out how fun it is.”
Learn more about the Mayday Club on their website