Executive team at concert © Courtesy of Music for Every Child
By Allie Murray
For 15-year-old Samantha Fung, the disruptions to education from the pandemic went so much deeper. When she considered how hard adjusting to online learning was for herself, she then realized it would be nearly impossible for the students at her Mississauga, Ont. school with disabilities to learn online.
Fung had made connections with the students with disabilities at her school, having volunteered in special education classrooms since she was 10.
“I personally experienced and interacted with others who were also experiencing the struggles of online learning and the negative effects the pandemic had on our education,” Fung explained.
“Students born with developmental disabilities didn’t even have the opportunity to do online schooling and this must be even harder on their education, and their families.”
Stricken by the negative effects of the pandemic, Fung decided to bring some light back into students’ lives, using the power of the universal language: music.
Fung founded Music for Every Child (MFEC), a youth-led, registered charity run by students ages eight to 23.
The program is currently serving five inner-city model schools and one special school for women, transgender and non-binary students. In addition, the program runs in five more schools. In total, MFEC is available in 11 schools across Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, and Ottawa.
“We set our priority to help the most in need first,” Fung said. “Children with developmental disabilities who were disproportionately affected by COVID.”
“Not only is Music for Every Child working to help these children, but also to inspire over 200 young volunteers, all full-time elementary and high school students, like ourselves, by sharing with them the joy of giving and all that we’ve learned through our experiences with MFEC,” she explained.
The program has made immense impacts on youth—both participants and volunteers alike. So much so that when volunteer Molly Chen moved to a new school in Michigan, she brought the idea of expanding MFEC to the United States to Fung, who thought it was a great idea. Today, Chen is leading a team of volunteers and communicating with school officials in the U.S. to arrange fundraisers for the charity.
“It is truly inspiring for me to be working with such a vibrant, resilient, and passionate volunteer, who keeps working on what they believe in, no matter the hardships, until it becomes a reality,” Fung said.
Similarly, MFEC has caught the attention of the Royal Family, awarding Fung with The Diana Award, named after the late Diana, Princess of Wales, the award is given to young people who are making a difference.
“She believed that young people can change the world, and to have it acknowledge that I am part of proving that belief to be a reality is a true honour,” she said.
Looking towards the future, Fung plans to continue expanding MFEC by recruiting more volunteers, offering the program in more schools and community centres, with the goal of passing the torch to the next generation once she finishes high school.
“We want to orderly hand over MFEC operations to younger volunteers who will become the new face of the organization, thus creating a legacy and continue what MFEC was founded to do: help those most in need, inspire youth, and create an interconnected world that leaves no one behind,” Fung shared.
Ardenwood Elementary © Courtesy of The Grey Water Project The Grey Water Project founder Shreya Ramachandran on California droughts and
The Canadian Courage Project is a nonprofit organization started by Torontonians Anya and Shania Bhopa.