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Professional Live Arts for Youth (P.L.A.Y. Society) is a community based not for profit society that provides theatre and musical theatre programming to children and youth. The goal of the society is to ensure every child and teen has access to professional arts training regardless of their financial situation. P.L.A.Y. Society does this by offering all of their classes at a rate of $5 an hour, there is also a scholarship program in place that will help cover that cost for families that need it.

P.L.A.Y. Society is able to do this because of their community partnerships with local theatres, vendors and the generosity of donors; without them we would not be able to provide our programming at such a professional level. Every child has the right to arts programming and P.L.A.Y. Society will continue to work with surrounding communities to accept children and families from every walk of life, no matter what.


Our story and how Barbara Howard started it all

In early 2014 Brad Tones and Jessica Nelson were invited to a dinner by Debra Hinksman (Deb). The reason for the dinner wasn’t clear, only that Deb wanted to chat. During the dinner Deb mentioned that her church was in the process of creating fund in honour of Barbara Howard who was one of their congregation members and a pretty big deal. The fund was meant to support kids in the community and they were accepting proposals with the tagline ‘what would you do to benefit children in your community?’

Brad and Jessica left the meeting excited about putting forward a proposal as they shared a passion for the arts and supporting local families. Together they came up with the idea of providing theatre and musical theatre classes to children in the Langley area. They called this idea P.L.A.Y. (Professional Live Arts for Youth) as it touches on both the notion of putting on a ‘play’ but also expresses professionalism in the arts. P.L.A.Y. would provide theatre and musical theatre classes to everyone in the community and make sure every child had the chance to participate with zero discrimination.

The Barbara Howard Student Arts Fund supported the idea and funded their next three years. In that time P.L.A.Y. became an incorporated society, expanded to surrounding communities and now supports arts programing for nearly 500 kids annually. All this because Barbara Howard told her church to find a way to support children.

Who was Barbara Howard?

Barbara Howard was an amazing woman who paved the way for so many.

In 1938, at the age of 17, Barbara was a student at Britannia Secondary School in Vancouver. She was on the track and field team and ran the 100m dash in 11.2 seconds, it was one tenth of a second faster than the world Empire Games record. Team Canada was quick to recruit her, and at 17 years old she became the first person of colour to compete for Canada on an international stage. She helped the Canadian team take home a silver and a bronze medal in relay sprints, while she placed sixth in the world in the 100-meter sprint.

Unfortunately, the war cancelled the next two Olympics and she was never able to finish a career in track and field that was sure to be a successful one, but don’t worry, she wasn’t done with trailblazing just yet.

Barbara studied at the University of British Columbia and upon receiving her degree in education she became the first minority ever hired by the Vancouver school board. While teaching she chose to keep her athletic history quiet and focus on teaching. There’s a story a student told of her joining a baseball game in gym class. Barbara was teaching baseball to a group of girls and decided to grab a bat. She stood at the plate in her heels and a very nice suit, she was always known for wearing nice clothes. In her heels she swung at the first pitch and hit it out of the park. The girls were all screaming as they joined her as she ran around the bags in her heels. “We had no idea she was an athlete” one student said “we thought she was just a teacher.” Barbara Howard was not just a teacher. For 40 years she was a mentor, a friend, an athlete AND a teacher in the Vancouver school system. She was also a member of a small church in Burnaby called Ellesmere United. It was this church that wanted to acknowledge Barbara with a Fund in her name. When asked what she would like the fund to do she simply said “Find a way to give back to children,” the rest is history.

Barbara lived an amazing yet humble life until January of 2017. P.L.A.Y. Society is proud to have known such an impactful and kind person and so thankful that she was able to see our society succeed and grow because of her. We will continue to support our local communities and ensure every child has a safe and fun place to play.


Teachers

Alicia Tobin

Bio coming soon.

Cari May

Bio coming soon.

Chloe Zondag

Bio coming soon.

Ryan May

Bio coming soon.

Board of Directors

Jon Johnson

JJ is a fun-loving kid at heart who appreciates all-things-sci-fi and fantasy from Star Trek through Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings. JJ currently works as a youth and family counsellor and has had the privilege of working with young people and their families through schools, recreation centres and community settings. A 'blue-sky thinker', he sees the potential in people through empowering programs like P.L.A.Y. He holds a degree Child and Youth Care from Douglas College and also serves with the Child and Youth Care Association of BC. JJ has three young nieces with whom he loves to draw, imagine, bake, create and play! The values of P.L.A.Y. Society to provide quality affordable and accessible arts programs inspired JJ to join the board in 2016. "I am excited to see how PLAY can grow this year - enabling kids to connect and fully express themselves through performing arts!"

Shayne McCarthy

Shayne McCarthy, or Bobby BouShayne the Waterboy, runs a health and wellness business operating out of Maple Ridge but works with many people around the world online helping them restore and maintain balance in their health. Certified as a consultant/educator with the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation, Shayne's true passion is in H2 and its ability to reduce oxidative stress, inflammation and repair gut health. Shayne was raised to have a passion of helping and giving back to the community. He's volunteered with societies such as Cythera Transition House, Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association, Red Cross and many others. Growing up he did participate in a lot of performing arts so he knows how valuable it can be for kids growing up, that's why working with the P.L.A.Y. Society was of high interest.

Frankie LaChimea

Growing up, Frankie loved doing two things: playing sports and watching movies. He felt he was extremely fortunate to spend his adolescence in an environment of friends, games and movie nights. From there, he developed a passion for youth work and helping more kids enjoy the experience of youth. Inspired by P.L.A.Y’s cost-effective programming which allows every child to enjoy their love of theatre and a fun environment, Frankie was extremely excited to join the board. Currently, Frankie is the Ticket Sales Manager with the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) and Oil Kings (WHL). He also holds a B.B.A of Marketing Management from KPU. In addition, Frankie hopes to support P.L.A.Y by utilizing his experience of working with stakeholders such as the city, schools and corporate sponsors. In his spare time, he still goes back to enjoying his love of movies and sports by watching his Toronto Blue Jays and classic Schwarzenegger movies. Luckily, his fish “Kevin” doesn’t seem to mind.

Sarah Nutbrown Bourdeau

A fan of the arts and creating magic, Sarah Nutbrown Bourdeau fell in love with P.L.A.Y during her first shift working as a Head Technician at the Chief Sepass Theatre in 2015. Over the past six years P.L.A.Y has continued to be one of her favourite places to hang out and experience the joys this world has to offer. Having earned a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts majoring in Theatre Production and Design from Simon Fraser University, Sarah has used her artistic and macgyver skills at the service of fun and creating memories and experiences to add more colour to this world. Through creating environments using a child’s imagination as the paint brush, Sarah has gained so much pleasure from working and collaborating with all of the artists (children) she has encountered through P.L.A.Y. Due to the joy that this collaboration has provided her, Sarah has continued to push forward in her educational pursuits by returning to SFU in 2020 to continue her education in the arts with the hopes of gaining certification to teach secondary school visual and performing arts in the future. Using her artistic and creative skills Sarah serves on all of the committees on P.L.A.Y’s board of directors, including in the role of Treasurer.

Elena Middlemass

By day, Elena Middlemass is Manager, Corporate Service for Vitalus Nutrition and Manitoba Dairy Ingredients. Leading the CEO’s office, she is mainly focused on the special projects that allow the company to fulfill its purpose of unlocking the nutritional value of milk. Afterhours, and in her off-time, Elena enjoys a variety of volunteering opportunities in her community. From helping to stock the shelves of her local food bank to fundraising for a children’s hospice, there is nothing she likes better than to offer her experience and knowledge to others. P.L.A.Y. allows Elena to go back in time to her childhood, with warm memories spent in theatre groups, dance, and music classes. Giving back to the community is a core value for Elena, and she looks forward to supporting and contributing to team efforts at the P.L.A.Y. Society.

Founder and Executive Director: Brad Tones

Brad lives every day for those around him. “There is nothing more important than creating memories that we hold dear for as long as we can.” Let’s keep this short and sweet. Performer since the age of 8, handful of T.V commercials as a child, Bachelor’s Degree from Simon Fraser University, Executive Coordinator of The Columbia Theatre, Quatchi at the Vancouver Olympics, Founder of P.L.A.Y., Director of Development at Pacific Theatre, Husband to a beautiful wife and father of three amazing kids. Brad has been blessed with passion. He continuously strives to better himself and encourage those around him. Brad is so extremely proud of P.L.A.Y. Society and everyone involved, it’s because of you that we continue to grow and affect the lives of those around us.

Our Partners: Langley Fine Arts

We would like to take a moment to acknowledge the support and encouragement we’ve received from Langley Fine Arts and its staff. You have been an integral part of our growth and success and we thank you for everything you’ve done. *If you would like to partner with P.L.A.Y. and have some ideas of how we can work together please do let us know. We love working with the community to bring the arts to more people. Contact us at info@playsociety.ca


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