Kids Up Front Welcomes New Executive Director

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of Kids Up Front Vancouver, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Shelley Leonhardt as Executive Director.

Being an accomplished business executive, Shelley offers a diverse background in both private and not for profit industries. In her many leadership roles, Shelley has guided individuals and organizations in defining strategies to increase productivity, develop strong internal and external communications, enrich client relations and enhance business development. Known as a “connector of people”, Shelley prides herself on building meaningful and long term relationships.

We are excited by the wealth of experience and enthusiasm Shelley brings to Kids UP Front Vancouver. Edie Doepker, President of the Board of Directors said of the appointment, “I’ve no doubt that Shelley Leonhardt is the dynamic professional with not-for-profit management experience that Kids Up Front Vancouver needs”.

At Kids Up Front, we believe that ALL children should be inspired through the Power of a Performance.  Kids Up Front provides uplifting experiences for children-in-need through the redistribution of donated tickets to Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sporting events.  These experiences can truly be life changing for some of them.

Currently we work with and support 128 partner agencies in the lower mainland and distribute over 39,000 tickets to the various events, including the Whitecaps, Lions, Canucks, Canadians, Giants, BC PavCo, Ballet BC, Arts Club, Vancouver Art Gallery and the Aquarium, just to name a few.

To enable Kids Up Front Vancouver to continue to make dreams come true for the kids and families we serve, we are holding our Annual Superheros Gala on September 24th at the Marriott Pinnacle. For more information, please call the office at 604-266-5437 or visit Please join us.


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Golf Green: Since its inception, Kids Up Front has been sending underprivileged kids and their families to arts, cultural, sports and recreational events. Working with local agencies and using empty seats to help fill up kids’ lives, the non-profit has provided more than 265,000 tickets to memorable, life-changing experiences since 2004. Helping make a difference in the lives of less fortunate kids and families, upwards of 200 guests hit the “links” for Kids Up Front’s major fundraiser, The 19th Hole Gala, held at the Roundhouse Community Centre.

CKNW’s Simi Sara and Global B.C.’s Kate Gajdosik, along with Kids Up Front director Dean Prelazzi, welcomed supporters to the fifth edition of the golf classic, featuring Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. Attendees came out swinging, participating in golf-related and spa activities before sitting down to a Savoury City-catered dinner, auction and keynote address by Lenarduzzi. Not surprisingly, a Whitecaps Game Experience for a dozen fans fetched the night’s top bid. Among the luminaries spotted comparing scorecards at The 19th Hole were Whitecaps legend Carl Valentine, B.C. Lions player Kevon Williams and brand.LIVE’s Paul Runnals.

HSBC gifts Kids Up Front Vancouver!

Pictured are HSBC Bank CEO, Lindsay Gordon, and Kids Up Front’s, Cindy Graves

Kids Up Front Foundation Vancouver is one of six charities globally to receive £50,000 ($80,620) from HSBC, raised in lieu of sending Christmas cards.

SAP awards $10,000 grant to Kids Up Front Vancouver


Michael Jamieson, Manager IT Services, SAP
Cindy Graves, Executive Director, Kids Up Front

A huge THANKS to our community partners at SAP! SAP Canada Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 Vancouver Grant to Kids Up Front in support of Lightbulb Moments!

This generous donation will help provide inner city youth with fun, innovative educational opportunities in science, math and technology.

Together, Kids Up Front and SAP are providing learning opportunities, beyond traditional classroom walls, to ignite imaginations and inspire young minds.

Exercising belly-up at the ballet barre

Fundraiser for underprivileged children’s arts and recreation activities sees partiers talk golf and raise a drink – by Malcolm Parry, Vancouver Sun October 27, 2012

RIGHT UP FRONT: Kids Up Front executive director Cindy Graves set out to raise $100,000 for underprivileged children’s arts and recreation activities recently. Held at the Roundhouse Community Centre, the 19th Hole gala featured golf-related activities along with massages, makeup demonstrations and, of course, drinking in a midway-like setup. One exhibitor, Bar Method Vancouver proprietor Carolyn Williams, aced the event by having a kid up front herself. In fact, her first baby is still 25 weeks away, but she said the experience is helping her advise pregnant clients at “my first two babies,” namely studios in Yaletown and West Vancouver. “You can (exercise) without getting the heart rate up too high, and by focusing on breathing, which helps with labour,” Williams said. She’ll maintain a modified regimen “until I go into labour,” and then start work on her fourth baby, meaning another studio.

Student-run non-profit organization for kids

Student-run non-profit organization offers hands-on learning for kids

Brainwave founders and UBC students Davis Sam, Jonathan Simkin and Michael Grubner. Photo Kai Jacobson/The Ubyssey

Two years ago, three UBC students came up with a unique idea to get involved on campus and in local communities throughout Vancouver. After countless hours of hard work, Brainwave — a non-profit organization that provides interactive field trips for elementary and middle-school students — was born.

The organization was started several years ago when founder Michael Grubner and two of his friends, Davis Sam and Jonathan Simkin, felt the itch to make more of an impact at their university. Grubner, who is currently in his third year at UBC and plans to major in sociology, said that Brainwave was designed to be “a community outreach organization to involve kids with interactive experiences that are educational in their foundation.”

The three young founders quickly discovered that starting such an ambitious project was easier said than done. “We had no idea how to design a curriculum,” said Grubner with a laugh. “Many nights [were spent] Googling icebreaker activities and games and all that kind of stuff.… We were really super green at this.”

The ball got rolling when Grubner contacted Kids Up Front Vancouver, a charity that connects kids to arts, culture, sports and recreational activities. According to him, partnering with Kids Up Front was “a real serious game changer…. From that point onwards, we could get kids from them.”

Kids Up Front, which has massive network connections to programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, was able to help sign up kids for the activities organized by Brainwave.

Since the partnership, Brainwave has flourished as an outreach program for children who would otherwise not have the opportunity for hands-on educational experiences with talented instructors.

Brainwave’s UBC connection has played a large part in the program’s development. UBC professors from various departments participate in the field trips. Semkin added that the organization receives sponsorship from UBC, the departments of chemistry and zoology, and individual professors. The co-founders emphasized that Brainwave could not have flourished without the help of these sources.

Grubner, Sam and Simkin also encouraged other UBC students to get involved with Brainwave. “We currently have 19 volunteers,” said Simkin, “… and we are always ready to expand.” Volunteers are a major component of Brainwave, as they help facilitate the field trips and manage the kids.

Grubner also noted that he aims to evolve the organization. Simkin mentioned their interest in expanding the program into the arts.

“The general arrangement is that we want to give hands-on experience, but we don’t want to limit just to sciences,” said Simkin. “The only reason we’ve had primarily science field trips is because I’m in sciences.

“We’d love to get a drama field trip. We’d love to get a music field trip.… We want to get every group. Hopefully, this also brings in a [more] diverse group of kids as well.”

The creators of Brainwave hope that their footprint in the community will continue to grow. “You see it in the kids that come out — they really enjoy the experience,” said Grubner. “They really take it to heart. And for us, that makes it all worth it.”

For more information about Brainwave, visit

Voices in the Park

Stevie Nicks performs during Sarah McLachlan’s School of Music’s Voices In The Park concert at Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Sept 15, 2012.

Photograph by: Arlen Redekop , PNG

Anyone who was in Stanley Park on Saturday evening probably heard voices.

No, not voices in their head, but Voices in the Park, a benefit concert for the Sarah McLachlan School of Music.

“This is going to be a great day of music and I’d love to see it continue,” said event producer Paul Runnals earlier in the day, noting the Brockton Point site is a venue he hoped to continue using for events similar to the one spearheaded by Sarah McLachlan.

McLachlan, the Vancouver musician and advocate, performed Saturday at Stanley Park’s Brockton Fields for the fundraiser, which sold out all its reserved seating and chalets prior to the event and was steadily tracking toward an anticipated 11,000 general admission tickets sold.

The event, which also featured Bryan Adams, Stevie Nicks, Hey Ocean! and the ever comedic Jann Arden, was also the largest concert to take place in Stanley Park and the first ticketed event to use the Brockton Fields site.

All proceeds from the concert went to funding McLachlan’s school, which provides free music training and programs for socially challenged and at-risk Vancouver youth.

McLachlan’s long-time friend, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, flew in from New York especially to lend his support for the benefit.

Clinton kept his speech to less than five minutes and made no mention of the Democratic National Convention, where he spoke earlier this month in support of President Barack Obama.

Instead, Clinton said he was there for McLachlan, who had often come to his support at various points throughout the last two decades. He praised the musician for her work with youth and music education.

“I think it is very unlikely that I would have ever become president had I not been in school music from the time I was nine to the time I was 17,” Clinton shared with the crowd.

“It taught me discipline and creativity. It made me see the world in different ways. It made me understand things in different ways.

“You are literally, by contributing here, increasing the capacity of young Canadians to learn, to grow, to live their dreams.”

It was a cause that friends Kelsey Plumb and Marisa Varley were more than happy to support.

The women, both 25, were attending the concert with their two younger siblings, Plumb’s sister Hannah and Varley’s brother Keegan — both of whom are diagnosed with Down syndrome.

The quartet were able to enjoy the concert thanks to Kids Up Front Vancouver, an organization that distributes free event tickets to challenged youth, providing them with opportunities they might never have received — similar to McLachlan’s cause.

“It’s a great idea,” Plumb said. “We definitely need more music in Vancouver for young people.”

For others like Kelly Wolfe and her two friends, it was a chance to leave the husbands and kids at home and enjoy a ladies’ night out.

While Wolfe admitted she was there for Canadian icon Adams, the trio wasn’t there just to fawn over musical acts.

“These artists coming together to make the world a little better? That’s what we’re really here for,” Wolfe said.

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