When John Hollywood first gathered two clients of the Association of Community Living together for a jam session he figured he was giving them an opportunity to express themselves through music.
What Hollywood quickly discovered was that he was going to have to go home and practice to keep up with the talented young men.
Fast forward eight years later and the trio, along with five other band members they met along the way, are preparing to record a second album as Inclusion – a group made up of staff and clients from the Campbell River and District Association for Community Living. Several of the band members have disabilities but that hasn’t slowed them down.
The original three are Hollywood on the guitar and vocals, Andrew Wilkes on keyboard, and Justin Fong on the Q chord. Dwayne Bryant, who plays the washboard and djembe (a skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands), joined the group shortly after.
Hollywood’s son J.L., who plays an electronic drum kit, and is the only member not associated with the Association for Community Living, along with Helen Frier (vocalist and harmony), Gail McIntosh (singer, percussion, and emcee) and the most recent addition, Richard Franklin on bass guitar and vocals, make up the rest of Inclusion.
“We’re an independent group, we practice on our own time,” Hollywood says. “Nobody is paid to do it; we do it for fun.
“Our goal is to take the message out to kids that people with disabilities have gifts and just bring some awareness of what people can do. By middle school, kids with disabilities tend to fall into groups with other kids with disabilities and I guess what we’re trying to say is that doesn’t have to be the case, that shouldn’t be the case.”
Hollywood says Inclusion is about encouraging those with disabilities that they can do whatever they set their mind to while the message to the rest of the students is there are ways to include those with disabilities.
The band has been very generous in helping local charities since its inception, hosting an Inclusion and Friends set with admission donations going to support initiatives such as Cedar Elementary School’s breakfast program and the food bank.
This weekend it will be Inclusion’s turn to play for itself.
The band will be taking its upbeat, toe tapping rhythms to the Wal-Mart parking lot this Saturday as part of Steve Marshall Ford’s Drive 4UR Community fundraiser, with proceeds going to the Campbell River and District Association for Community Living. The Association, in turn, has decided to use the funds to assist Inclusion.
For each person who takes a 10-minute test drive of a new Ford vehicle, Inclusion will receive a sum of money, up to $6,000. Inclusion will be providing the entertainment for the event, with performances at 11 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. outside Wal-Mart.
With the funds raised, the band hopes to take its message of inclusion into the schools on Vancouver Island and put together a professional, educational package that it can present to students.
The Ford Drive 4UR Community event runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Wal-Mart parking lot, across from this weekend’s Salmon Festival and Logger Sports.
For more information on Inclusion, visit the group’s website: www.musicforeveryone.ca
Inclusion’s music is also posted on Youtube.