Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 14/12/2008 (3325 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
AT age 16, John Seymour is tall, confident and has an opinion on anything and everything.
But it hasn't always been that way for the young man who lives in the city's North End. Just a year-and-a-half ago, he was a quiet introvert who kept his head down and his mouth shut.
"I guess I just didn't enjoy life as much," Seymour recalled. "I used to just sit on the computer and talk to my friends on MSN,"
All it took to bring Seymour out of his shell was a weekly acting class held at the Nor'West Community Resource Centre on Alexander Avenue.
Funded by the United Way, the centre is just one of the outlets organized by the Nor'West Community Health Centre to help bring resources — such as Seymour's free acting classes — to low-income neighborhoods.
Hanging out at the Nor'West Alexander Resource Centre was nothing new for Seymour. He'd been spending time there for quite a few years. However, it wasn't until staff coaxed him into participating in the free weekly acting classes that his life really changed.
"It's a lot better than what it used to be," said Seymour with a smile. "It just makes me feel more alive."
Caprice Kehler has been an community facilitator at the Brooklands-area resource centre for almost five years. That's about the same time that Seymour, who was 11 years old at the time, started showing up. "He was a very shy person when I met him," Kehler said.
These programs are set up by the centre to try and meet needs in the community, and to give young people like Kehler a chance to participate in extracurricular activities, something that a lot of families can't afford.
Watching Seymour transform into the outgoing character that he is now has been inspiring for Kehler. It's also proof that these types of programs really can make a difference. "John's a huge success of what we do hear," said Kehler.
The centre also provides counselling and mentoring for people in need, as well as a full resource centre, clinics, and opportunities to learn a number of important life skills.
For Seymour, the classes opened his eyes to his passion for acting.
He no longer keeps to himself the way he once did. Instead, he spends his time participating in the drama program at his high school, and performs in plays whenever he gets a chance.
This year he got the to perform a role in Don't Forget About Us, a play about children in foster care that ran at the MTC Warehouse.
"It felt really cool," said Seymour about performing for such a large group of people. Seymour also writes his own plays in his spare time, and recently received a bursary so that he can take other acting classes at Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE). Starting in January, he'll also get the chance to assist one of the teachers from PTE for the winter session of classes at the Nor'West Community Health Centre.