http://www.9news.com/news/education/music-program-helps-at-risk-teens-work-towards-their-dreams/224728888DENVER - The music that comes out of Youth On Record is not only good but it does good.
"I started playing music because I was going through a hard time in life," ninth-grader Issac Zamora said. "Playing music relieves me, relieves me over everything. I feel free."
Youth on Record reaches out and redirects at-risk and "written-off" teenagers through the power of music.
Youth on Record partners up with local professional musicians who go into Denver Public Schools where kids are way behind academically.
"The students who we're working with are the oldest in Denver Public Schools with the least amount of credit," Youth on Record Executive Director Jami Duffy said. "These are kids who have come to the United States after living in refugee camps. These are students who have experienced chronic homelessness. These are kids who have been in and out of youth residential treatment facilities because of severe trauma."
The intensive music classes brought to the school incorporate music theory as well as curriculum on how music effects society. There are introductions to different types of music: instrumental, computer generated and spoken word.
"I've been in their seats and I've been them at one point," hip-hop artist Ill Se7en said. He's one of the 12 "partner artists" who spend time in DPS schools teaching.
"When we first get in there, the students are reluctant to be open and expect us to be teachers not knowing that we're musicians," Ill Se7en said. "By the time we're done doing the beat production classes, the poetry classes, they are usually really connected and wanting to express more within that art," Ill Se7en said.
"To have musicians with the same backgrounds of the kids is just a magical experience and it's really motivating for young people to go to school every day," Duffy said.
Youth on Record works with a thousand teenagers every year. According to data collected by Youth on Record, 85 percent of its students have shown an increase in attendance. Seventy-one percent of Youth on Record students have improved their GPA.