(WSVN) - Tragic shootings of teens and young children have rocked South Florida, but one group is urging kids to choose guitars over guns. 7’s Craig Stevens has the story.
Eighth-grader Michael Dominguez wants to make sure his singing is heard loud and clear.
He and fellow classmate Alijaa are two of the musical muses in a program called Guitars Over Guns.
Alijaa Williams, plays drums: “Everything I want to say about myself is in these sticks.”
Michael Dominguez, sings: “It helps you put your mindset to something that you really want to do, even achieve things that you never knew you could do.”
Music draws these students together, but there is a deeper mission behind this after school program — keeping teens out of trouble.
Alijaa Williams: “It helps us stay out of violence and other things that can get you either in jail or in the grave.”
Michael Dominguez: “That’s what the program is about, being good in school and being good in your life.”
But it’s the goodness of the volunteers who make the difference. The Guitars Over Guns program started at North Miami Middle School in 2008 and has grown to seven schools in Miami and Chicago.
These kids don’t just have to hit the right notes, they also have to take note of their grades, because the volunteer mentors check their report cards. If need be, they’ll even offer tutoring.
Daniel Hayoun: “We try to offer them solutions to any kind of obstacles that may lay in their way. Really emphasizing that these goals are important because in a lot of these communities, education can be shunned sometimes or made fun of.”
Daniel says a kind gesture when he was a kid inspired him to help these kids.
Daniel Hayoun: “In music school, my best friend, who I met in school, his father came for a visit. And he said, ‘Where’s your other guitars?’ I said, ‘This is all I got you know.’ I go home that summer and ding dong at the door one day. Three left handed guitars. Really hit me right in the heart.”
Now he’s scoring big with students by awarding the most improved a guitar of their own at the end of the year.
Daniel Hayoun: “We’re trying to improve the world, you know, maybe one kid at a time, because ultimately, these acts of kindness are remembered.”
But for these kids, the real gift is getting help at one of the hardest times in their lives.
Michael Dominguez: “I never thought I could do it, but now that I’m here, I’ve performed once and I felt great!”
Alijaa Williams: “It makes me feel confident and proud and humble about myself.”
Guitars Over Guns will host a concert on Oct. 22.
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