Friends of Aaron Brown
A team for GNG NCA
"Friends of Aaron Brown", a team to help GNG NCA continue to serve at risk youth with an outstanding music program.
My Goal for Nov. 9th - is to get 250 Friends of Aaron to donate $10.
My Story - This charity, to me, is about honoring my only son Aaron, whose life was cut short in an instant in February 2006. I don't want to relive the tragedy here but I will say that if Aaron were still with us, he would no doubt be playing guitar. He loved to teach guitar to anyone who would sit with him and want to learn. Aaron loved kids, had a very strong sense of community and a desire to help others, so I am very sure that he would be proud of this organization and help it succeed by teaching guitar to kids after school. Aaron had a way with people; he was a good friend and had all the time in the world to listen to anyone tell their story. If he were here, he would be a good mentor, lifelong teacher and friend.
About Us - Guitars Not Guns (GnG) was started in July 2000 in San Jose, California by Ray and Louise Nelson. Our mission is to enable youth challenged by adverse circumstances - poverty, dysfunctional families or neighborhoods - to succeed and become productive, caring and responsible members of society. The GnG NCA affiliate was formed in 2006 following the tragic shooting death of 18 year old Aaron Brown; an Eagle Scout and aspiring professional guitarist. We serve Washington DC and the neighboring counties in Northern Virginia and Maryland.
Our Motivation - Being born into poverty should not be a life sentence. Anita is a 15 year old living in a poor, single parent family; she saw opportunities at school but had neither the confidence nor support to take advantage of them. GnG’s Music Program came to her neighborhood in January and she was persuaded to give it a try. She enjoyed learning to play guitar; her confidence and trust in herself grew as she progressed. In June she passed the beginner’s test and earned her guitar. When our classes resumed in September she came back to learn more. She also announced that she had joined the guitar class at her high school, had made several new friends and for the first time was looking forward to the school year. For Anita, any so many more like her, music is the key to navigating the road to self sufficency.
What we do - We expend over 300 volunteer hours per week working with youth like Anita; preventing children born into poverty from becoming adults living in poverty. Children living in poverty often view the challenges to achieve self sufficiency as insurmountable; their family and circle of neighbors/friends include few, if any people who have achieved that goal. GnG’s Music Program engages these youth in a positive, creative activity that improves their academic performance, instills discipline and boosts their confidence.
Why it works - Research has shown a strong correlation between music education and a person’s success in life. Youth involved in quality music programs tend to do better in school; score higher on standardized tests; be less inclined to engage in risky behavior; and be more inclined to take advantage of opportunities made available to them. It is a positive outlet for their emotions and one of the few activities that can be enjoyed by anyone; there is no stereotype image based on gender, race, national origin, religion or physical attributes which makes music programs particularly effective in today’s diverse society.
Who we serve - Our program serves youth in middle and high school; ages 10-18. Approximately 90% are in families living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level; the remaining 10% are at-risk youth who have experienced problems either in school or with the legal system. To date we have served approximately 900 students; 53% African American, 24% Hispanic, 14% Caucasian, 8% Asian and 1% other. 69% of these students were male; 31% female. 64% were in middle school; 36% in high school. Most of our Hispanic students are recent immigrants with non English speaking parents. Most of our African American students are from families that have been low income for several generations. Most of our Middle Eastern students are recent immigrants with English speaking parents.
Why we need your help - Financial reality has resulted in fewer opportunities for those with limited means to participate in a quality music program; funding for music and arts programs in our public schools continues to decline and the cost of private instruction continues to rise. At the same time the fastest growing segment of our population is youth being born into poverty; the school dropout rate for these youth, particularly among minorities is high. GnG NCA is part of the solution by providing a quality music program to those who can’t otherwise afford one. Your donation makes it all possible.
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