The Youth Villages-Inner Harbour African Drum Program has long been a source of pride for the campus, the drumming instructors and the children who participate in the drum circle.
West African-style therapeutic drumming engages young participants in building and playing drums, improving hand-eye coordination, stimulating brain activity and teaching musical skills that will last a lifetime.
The performance group is open to children who do well in their treatment, children who express an interest in participating and those who need an extra boost to help them develop a greater sense of self-worth. This group performs publicly in and around Atlanta, and has even performed for former President Jimmy Carter. Over the years, different groups have traveled to eight other states, including a trip in 2002 to New York City to perform at Lincoln Center, and four subsequent trips to Washington, D.C.
The group most recently performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and has been invited to perform at the Summer Olympics in London in 2012.
West African drumming traditions are old and powerful. At Youth Villages’ residential campuses in Georgia and Tennessee, African drumming serves as a valuable tool to help children and teens work through emotional, behavioral and social issues, helping them move toward recovery and healing.
Drumming participants report that 30 minutes of drumming reduces feelings of anger and depression, and helps them feel rejuvenated, alive, stronger than before and more hopeful. Groups struggling to get along or experiencing other difficulties quickly find ways to work together and be supportive of one other when they begin to drum. These immediate benefits are enhanced by increasing skills in cooperation, awareness, frustration tolerance and mental focus, among others. Educational goals also are reinforced in drumming class, where children have the opportunity to use math, English, history and other crucial skills.