Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta – Sistema (YONA-Sistema) is a program offered by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Modelled on Venezuela’s El Sistema project, YONA uses music for social change and teaches the values of unity, harmony, and mutual compassion.
Five days a week, 75 students receive group instrument lessons, led by qualified teachers, at no cost to their families and are then bussed safely home.
Each year, another group of students participates in a “YONA Explorers” program, which introduced the YONA philosophy, before joining the full program.
YONA is unique among both after-school and music programs in that it provides holistic care for all students, encompassing nutrition, free play, academic support, interpersonal skill support, and expressive arts education alongside daily music instruction during the “critical” after-school hours.