August 11, 2011 Features & Images » Feature Story

Growing Up Whistler 

Whistler may be the ultimate playground for the rich and famous, but at the heart of the community can oftentimes be found in the sand and on the slide at the real playgrounds

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The Whistler Arts Council (WAC) also has programs to support families, beyond the Whistler Children's Art Festival. The organization manages the street entertainment in the village. Much of the programming is appropriate for kids and families, and benefits tourists and locals alike.

Since WAC has taken over the management of Millennium Place, they now have a venue to create arts programming, such as pumpkin carving at Halloween and crafts at Christmas. The performance series put on by WAC every year contains between one and three shows aimed at kids, which are always popular.

But there is more to supporting families and the arts than just programming. WAC gives out art awards to one student in Grade 7 and 12 at each of the public schools in Whistler, Pemberton and Mount Currie.

"(The awards) are a great opportunity to show emerging artists that they are appreciated, that they have talent, and that it is important for them to continue with their artistic passion," says Niedermayer.

It is also a great opportunity for the members of WAC to see which artists are out there, and whom to nurture.

Devin White is a great example.

He won the Whistler Secondary Grade 12 art award this year, and has been hired by WAC over the past few years to create work for them.

"The kids are so good, but they often don't know their own talent," says Niedermayer. "It is so genuine. It's a real pleasure to see raw talent before it is trained and polished."

Niedermayer enjoys connecting with artists on an early basis, helping them grow, supporting them, and watching them succeed. She likens watching Ali Milner succeed as a vocal artist and return to perform here, to ski club coaches watching their racers grow up to be Olympians.

Another organization working for Whistler families is Moving Mountains for Children, a grassroots group that is supported through Sea to Sky Community Services and the Putting Children First initiative of the BC government. Three years ago, anyone interested in kids aged zero to six was invited to join the fledgling group. Jane Millen was one of the people who responded to the call. She and the other members of Moving Mountains saw a need for networking among families.

"There are lots of things to do in Whistler, but when you are new to town you don't always know what they are," says Millen.

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