As executive director and founder of one our new program KICDRUM+ ARTS, I’m so excited about all the amazing opportunities that we have in our great city of Richmond, Virginia, to bring hope, give life and make a real difference in children’s lives.

In the spring of 2015 we just completed our first pilot program of KICDRUM+ARTS with amazing results. I have to admit at the beginning of our 10-week program with 12, fourth grade boys we did have our skeptics. Over the weeks, a visible real change began to occur in these young men’s lives in Richmond!

I remember at the beginning of our program, when I would bring my students back to class after our sessions, the teachers would ask me if their student was in trouble for misbehaving during the session. I would always answer that question with a smile and report back to the teacher that “No, your student is actually doing a really good job.” In about the fifth week the teachers stopped asking me about their misbehavior and started asking me about what I was doing, because they could see a difference in the behavior in the classroom from their students.

At the end of the 10-week program we performed for the entire school. There were tears in the eyes of some of the faculty and staff because the change was real. These young men had come together in spite of their differences with each other and done something that was truly amazing and inspirational. I think the thing that made all involved, including myself, get a little choked up was that these were children that were often overlooked and only received attention because of misbehavior.

The students were so proud of what they had accomplished and I was so proud of them because we had truly been on a journey together over the 10 weeks. I believe in this program even more so now after I’ve seen it work so profoundly. I can only imagine what visible change it could bring to many classrooms and schools across our city if only given the chance.