April 19, 2018 8:24 am

H’art Centre celebrates 20 years in operation


After 20 years in operation, the H’art Centre in downtown Kingston continues to grow.

The non-profit, charitable arts hub first opened its doors back in 1998. The centre provides people with disabilities an opportunity to study and create works in the arts.

Nathan Sikkema was 14 years old when he first started attending the H’Art Centre. For him, it’s a place where he can express himself through different forms of art, such as musical theatre.

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“I love acting. I’ve been acting for my entire life,” Sikkema says.

Sikkema was one of the first students to walk through the doors of the centre when it opened 20 years ago and to this day he remains a loyal student.

“It’s where I grew up. It’s like a home to me, my second home. It’s because of Katherine Porter, she’s amazing. She’s everything I could imagine in a teacher,” Sikkema says.

Porter founded the centre in 1998 after being inspired by work she had done with a young man with down syndrome. What started as a small school quickly grew into a centre that now teaches more than 50 students.

“It gives them a place to continue developing their social literacy skills and being creative. Now I think they are actually teachers. They are teaching us about patience, inclusion, and partnerships,” Porter says.

To help celebrate the centre’s 20th anniversary, staff and students have been working hard, preparing a musical that will take place in Kingston at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on April 20 and 21. The musical, which is called “A Gift for Martedella,” includes students from the centre as well as actors from the community.

rehearsals have been in full swing since January. For students at the centre, there is no shortage of excitement. Ashaya Garrett plays the lead role.

“It’s an amazing opportunity. I am so excited. I can’t wait for the weekend,”  Garrett says.

The musical is just one of over 3,000 pieces of work the centre has completed over the years and with the support from the community, it won’t be the last.

There are three performances taking place: Friday, April 20, at 6 p.m.; Saturday, April 21, at 2 p.m.; and Saturday, April 21 at 6 p.m. Tickets for the performance can be purchased through the Isabel Bader Box Office. They range from $12 to $30.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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