HYSO Alumni Give Back



Since its inception in 2009, over 100 youth have joined and played in the Hamilton Youth Steel Orchestra. Founders Karen Nelson and Cathy Ferreira wanted to create a program that taught children the history of the steel pan and how to play. Unbeknownst to them, they created something much more special.  HYSO has had a life changing impact on the youth that have gone through its program. This program has fostered and nurtured youth into not only amazing steel panist but into community leaders. Youth who have been apart of HYSO have received many honors for academic excellence, community involvement, and exceptional involvement in extra curricular activities. When asked who is to thank for the members great accomplishments; Karen, Cathy, and HYSO are said to be a huge part of their success. To show just how big a part of their success; this year fourteen HYSO Alumni will be giving back to their community and sponsoring a scholarship for the 2018 ACCPI Scholarship Awards. The Alumni will be honouring Cathy and Karen with the HYSO Founders Award. When the Alumni were asked why honouring Cathy and Karen is so important, they responded..


“Cathy & Karen, I mean it when I say; I would not be where I am or who I am without the two of you. The two of you are “The Best Kind of People” - The best kind of people are the ones that come into your life, and make you see the sun where you once saw clouds. The people that believe in you so much, you start to believe in you too. The people that love you, simply for being you. The once in a lifetime kind of people. Thank you for being those people”.

Rebecca Pettinella

ACCPI Scholarship Recipient – 2012

Bachelor of Science in Nursing


 “Winning a scholarship is something to be proud of. At the age of 10 , I attended my first ACCPI Awards dinner and from that day I began dreaming to one day cross that stage, give a speech and continue the legacy. I am a proud first time recipient of the Karen Nelson Award. For years to come I can say I was apart of the journey and a recipient from someone who had a dream that was selfless and believed in me. I’m proud to say that I am now a sponsor along with my peers. Giving back to the very same organization I’ve been attending. Thank you to Cathy and Karen for believing in me. Helping me with magnanimous growth. Accepting me for me, and encouraging me week after week. 

One Band One Sound One Love”.

Kambreia Cumberbatch

ACCPI Scholarship Recipient-  2012

Associates Degree - Protections Security & Investigation


“Cathy and Karen have been a big part of my teenage life. The Hamilton Youth Steel Orchestra allowed me to learn more about my mother's roots and where my mom's side of the family is from. HYSO has taught me to not only do my best, but to put in "150%" as Cathy would say. Both incredible women deserve this legacy award because not only are they advocates for positive youth growth, they also lead by example by showing how women work together to create a lasting impact. They are an inspiration”.


Krysia Walczak,

ACCPI Scholarship Recipient – 2009 

Bachelor of Science Biological Science, with a minor in Nutrition

 Masters degree in Epidemiology



“My life motto is one band, one sound
I was so happy when Jasmine mentioned a group scholarship the alumni could be a part of. Giving back to the community, raising youth up and showing and celebrating their importance, is the foundation of the Hamilton Youth Steel Orchestra. And this scholarship has allowed us to pay it forward. I received an ACCPI award in 2011, which I put towards my degree in Architecture”


Agnieszka Walczak

ACCPI Scholarship Recpient – 2011

Bachelor of Arts in Architecture


“When I was asked to help contribute to this legacy award for the ACCPI ceremony on behalf of these two lovely ladies, it was a no brainer. Growing up, I always looked at the ACCPI awards as something I should be aspiring towards; and the individuals who won -were people I aspired to be. My actions before and after winning were those that I hoped could be looked upon as inspirational for the youth that followed. Now that I have the opportunity to directly support and encourage youth from my community through this scholarship, I will no-doubt give back for many years to come. That said, we could not find women of whom could be more deserving! The impact they have had on my life and the lives of those around me could not be overstated as they taught us about ourselves; integrity; professionalism; empathy; courage and so much more. I am, who I am because of these women. I love them dearly, and to be honouring them while continuing their legacy of supporting youth is truly a privilege”.


Kristian – Anson Ferreira

ACCPI Scholarship Recipient – 2011

Honours Bachelor of Arts Sociology

Bachelor of Law



“Cathy & Karen can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. Thank you for amazing memories.”


Olivia Pettinella

ACCPI Scholarship Award Recipient- 2017

Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Law



"I wanted to contribute to the HYSO alumni award because HYSO has done so much for me from building close relationships to teaching me leadership skills. I was 6 years old when HYSO first started and Cathy and Karen created an environment that felt like a home away from home, which I will never forget and be forever grateful for. They deserve the world and the HYSO alumni award in their name shows our appreciation of their hard work and dedication they have put into the HYSO community for over 10 years. As we always say, one band, one sound."


Jamila Abrams

ACCPI Scholarship Recipient – 2015

Bachelor of Kinesiology


“HYSO has been such a huge part of my life. HYSO gave me my closest friends, it brought be closer to my culture, it gave me a space to grow, and it gave me the courage to be unapologetically me. Seeing all the members of HYSO receive an ACCPI scholarship award inspired me to want to achieve this same honour growing up. I don’t think people understand how impactful HYSO has been on the lives of youth and I don’t think they understand the hard work and dedication Cathy and Karen have put into this program. We, the alumni are living and breathing proof that Cathy and Karen exceeded the expectation they had for HYSO. We are leaders, we are graduates, we are entrepreneurs, we are dreamers but most importantly we are doers. The need to give back to our community is embedded in us and Cathy and Karen are to thank for this. I am very proud and fortunate to help carry on their Legacy”.


Jasmine Francis

ACCPI Scholarship Recipient  – 2014

Bachelor of Arts Honours Psychology – Minor, Business Administration



Thank you to our Alumni for their contribution to the HYSO Founders Award: Jake Connor, Kambreia Cumberbatch , Jamila Abrams, Nick Abrams, Dejehan Hamilton, Kristian Ferriera, Kyle Ferriera, Kareem Ferriera, Jasmine Francis, Jayde Daniel, Rebecca Pettinella, Olivia Pettinella, Krysia Walczak, Gillian Walczak.

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