Both Trammel and Flores insist that one of the most important things about developing the Drum Corps was to ensure it came to fruition in South Merced, therefore giving youth a safe place away from all the violence plaguing the area.
“Of course teaching kids indigenous and contemporary technologies is a major component of our program,” stated Trammell. “But another component was to create a harm free zone.”
“Music can be the difference between getting in trouble or not,” added Flores.
When I was a kid, I remember the centers at McNamara and Stephan Leonard parks being the heart and life of the community. The Mac was so beautiful. I swam in the pool, watched my mom play softball and spent my weekends there. I remember the Mac center being staffed by Parks and Recreation workers.
Now youth advocates are pushing the City Council to invest $29,000 in the Mac’s operating budget to close some of the gaps and pay for a part-time staff member to ensure consistent programming. On May 27, supporters held a rally in front of the youth center, urging community members to #BackTheMac.
For the first time in the history of Merced, community organizers, organizations, and residents came together to celebrate the legacy of Cesar Chavez, and to continue the fight for farmworker rights and health care.
I have to say there is alot of gang violence in my neighborhood so you see the Sheriff’s Department coming down asking kids what they’re doing or asking them if they’re on probation and things like that. I think when youth see police officers arresting their friends, that hurts their trust with police. I think law enforcement needs to get involved more in the community, go out there more and see what it’s like.