Amber Academy students from the 2017/2018 season. This year’s season begins on Sept. 10. (Photo co

Amber Academy arts program prepares for second year

Buoyed by its inaugural success, the Amber Academy arts program is preparing for a second year in Sooke.

“Our first year was absolutely amazing with almost 100 students participating in our program,” said program founder Kelli Dunn. “We’re very excited to be preparing for another amazing season.”

Amber Academy is an “all-encompassing” after-school arts program, which allows children of all ages and from all walks of life to learn about fine art and theatre production.

Last year some students had to be wait-listed for classes due to the popularity of the program, but this fall, Amber Academy is expanding, adding new classes and instructors to accommodate more students.

Dunn decided to put the program together last year, following the tragic death of her sister, Amber. Dunn explained that her sister was a kid who had a lot of challenges growing up, including a learning disability, which led to her struggling socially.

Amber was bullied in school, and turned to drugs and alcohol by the time she reached her teens. Eventually, the addiction and the lifestyle that accompanied it, led to her death at the age of 39.

“Amber Academy is dedicated to engaging youth in pro-social activities focused on the fine arts to encourage positive youth development, which may aid in the prevention of high-risk problem behaviours and help young people become confident, productive and healthy adults,” said Dunn.

“If Amber had had the right person in her life at the right time, things could have been so different. So this program is really about building up the kids’ self-esteem and giving them the courage to realize they have something more to contribute.”

Although the program is expanding this fall, fees will remain at $50 per year for a single child, and $75 for multi-child families.

“In addition to participating in classes up to three times a week, students will also be provided with healthy snacks and most of the supplies that will be needed for their projects,” said Dunn. “It’s important for us that our program is financially feasible to everyone, especially families with limited financial resources.”

Students from K to 12 participating in the program will have the chance to be involved in three performances in the 2018/2019 season.

“Last year’s musical, Fraggle Rock-a-Thon, was a huge success and attended by more than 700 people. The set, props and costumes were created by the students themselves, and sound and lighting was also designed by Amber Academy students,” noted Dunn.

To learn more about Amber Academy Youth Fine Arts Society, register for classes, or make a donation to support the program please visit, contact or call Kelli Dunn at (250) 888-1921.

Classes begin Sept. 10, 2018 and advanced registration is required.

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