MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In front of a crowd of fellow students at spacious Marlins Park, 13-year old Stervyns Sylvester broke into his rap and then his energetic dance moves.
He got the crowd excited at a very special graduation.
The Marlins loaned their stadium to Guitars over Guns so that the mentorship program could put its kids on the big screen and honor their participation in its after-school sessions.
Since our first story about Guitars over Guns in March of 2017, the charity has exploded in popularity.
“We have seen our programs triple in size,” said founder Chad Bernstein.
Thanks to a generous leap in sponsorships and donations, the program will expand to twelve Miami schools next year. It is also expanding in Bernstein’s native Chicago, all because people recognize the power of music.
“I think people see how it connects with the kids,” said Bernstein. “I’m jut glad that we were able to identify a need and get the opportunity to fill it.“
Sylvester’s mentor in the program is Sierra Shaw, who is also a product of the program.
“She cares about the music, but also about me and stays on me about my grades,” said Sylvester.
“Music is the thing that binds us all,“ Shaw said. “ It’s the universal language that we all speak.“
Shaw could not help but be amused as her mentee demonstrated his dance moves up close for CBS4’s Jim Berry.
“What is that,” Berry asked helplessly.
Guitars over Guns is now in its 11th year. Bernstein said he was inspired to start the charity when he and fellow musicians visited some kids in juvenile detention. He said he saw how the kids were energized when they heard music and realized something could be done to channel their energies and help them avoid trouble.
“It’s a great thing to see the door opened and the kids walk through it. They take a great deal of pride in realizing that they walked through that door on their own,“ he said.
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