Foundation led by Toronto Raptors coach gives $20K to Hamilton-based music charity

Head coach of the Toronto Raptors Nick Nurse says he can't wait to visit Hamilton — his "2nd favourite city in Canada" — once the pandemic is over to hear the kids involved with the local charity jam out.

Funds will help collective roll out mental health, music courses in 2021

Head coach of the Toronto Raptors Nick Nurse says his only request is that he gets to see the kids play their instruments, "once the world gets back to normal." (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

A foundation run by head coach of the Toronto Raptors, Nick Nurse, is donating $20,000 to a Hamilton-based charity that gives kids barrier-free access to instruments and music programming. 

Funds from the Nick Nurse Foundation will go to the "An Instrument for Every Child" program run by the Hamilton Music Collective, which introduces young people, including disadvantaged children, to music.

The frontman of Hamilton's Arkells, Max Kerman, posted a video on Twitter Wednesday showing the moment Astrid Hepner, the founder of the collective, found out about the donation. Kerman and Nurse were on the call. 

"The only request I have, Astrid, is once the world gets back to normal that I come down and get as many of these kids together and I get to hear them play a few tunes," said Nurse.

The program runs barrier-free music lessons for Hamilton youth, and provides access to instruments, lessons, music therapy, songwriting, and music production, according to a media release. 

They work across 14 partner schools and serve over 650 students in Hamilton. Their programming has primarily moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, says the media release, with over 300 kids enrolled in weekly virtual lessons. 

The charity says its goals are to "empower and enable all children to experience the joy and benefits of playing music, regardless of their socio-economic position."

"We are incredibly grateful for this generous gift from the Nick Nurse Foundation. Music helps release anxiety and stress, and this wonderful gift could not have come at a better time," said Hepner.

"We are currently preparing to roll out a number of exciting new programs geared towards music and mental wellness and music production in 2021. This financial aid to the program will have an immeasurable impact when we need it most."

Coach wants to visit 2nd favourite city in Canada

Kerman, who is a board member on the foundation, says he knows from experience how health can benefit from music lessons and access to instruments. Earlier this year, the band started "flatten the curve" music classes online so fans could still feel a sense of community despite the pandemic. 

"Amidst current social distancing protocols, it's even more important that we lean in and make sure kids aren't missing out," he said. 

The Raptors coach founded the Nick Nurse Foundation in January 2020. The group says it's dedicated to supporting children and young adults by connecting them with resources that help them develop, grow, and succeed in life.

"My second favourite city in Canada is Hamilton, so I'd love to come down and check it out as soon as we're able," said Nurse.