By Lynn Jones – This past weekend Don’t Miss a Beat (DMAB) nonprofit held their third annual summer camp finale performance in front of hundreds of family, friends and staff members. One hundred and twenty five campers participated in the “FAME” themed finale.
Parents were on their feet dancing to the beat as campers sang the opening song and danced to the beat of “A Brand New Day,” a song from the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz. Although the auditorium only held 200+ individuals, lines were wrapped around the corner to enter the facility for the highly anticipated finale. Many of the students attend performing arts schools or auditioned for a part in the “FAME” play. Each act had audience members clapping and jumping in their seats! After the performance, the students received a standing ovation and many parents excitedly snapped photos, hugged and cried when the students took their final bow.
The mission of Don’t Miss a Beat non profit is to blend music, art, academic achievement, and civic engagement to inspire and enlighten children and teens in the Riverside and Brooklyn communities. Don’t Miss a Beat was founded in 2008 by Ulysses Owens, Jr. Owens attended the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, where he became part of the school’s inaugural jazz program and graduated with a full scholarship to the Juilliard School. After graduating from Juilliard in 2006, Ulysses traveled the world as a jazz drummer, but his thoughts often turned to Jacksonville. Upon reading about Jacksonville’s high dropout rate and other youth problems, he and his family decided to act. “In other cultures, I saw so many arts programs for kids,” Ulysses says. “I thought we really needed something like this back home.” Ulysses team members consist of his mother Gwen Owens, his Aunts, supporters and donors.
The program began with the singular objective of helping suspended youths stay in school so they wouldn’t “miss a beat.” Since then, DMAB programming has evolved to include the performing arts, academic enrichment and civic engagement as well as job skills training for parents. DMAB is housed inside the Edith Brown Ford Community Center located on Beaver St., which allows programming for underserved youth all year long. This year the summer camp focused on the motto of “One Voice, One Vision, One Dream”. To attend the camp, campers have to complete an application and audition in front of staff members.
The six week camp invigorates campers zest for music, dancing and acting. With the assistance of Jacksonville Free Press staff, the youth created a newsletter to highlight summer camp activities, back to school academic enrichments and staying focus to achieve your dreams, goals and purpose. Haskell Company Architect Janel LeGard volunteered and assisted with measurements and design for the stage.
Stay turned for more as DMAB prepares for their fall afterschool program. To register and for more info visit www.dontmissabeat.org.