The Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta – YONA-Sistema – is expanding again, serving an additional 30 students this school year at its St. Teresa of Calcutta School site.

The YONA-Sistema program is offered by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. It provides holistic care and daily music instruction to 170 students in Edmonton and at Alexander First Nation.

Students have access to homework help, nutritious snacks, free-play and group music lessons for almost three hours after school, five days a week.

There is no cost to participating families.

“The program’s goals are simple: build stronger communities and provide the tools to create better futures for the children who participate,” Associate Director of Musical Creativity Amanda Banister said in a written release.

“The program enables students to develop a deep-seated confidence, help them cultivate a resilient self-worth, and learn how to incorporate the value of commitment into their lives,” she added.

YONA-Sistema was founded in September 2013.  The concept was inspired by the El Sistema program that was developed in Venezuela.