Winona Little Warriors feel the beat during their practice last Tuesday at the East Recreation Center.
by ALEXANDRA RETTER
Reverberations pulse through the floor, sending jolts into your body when they reach you. You can feel the energy thrumming in your ear drums, in your chest. It is just before dusk on an overcast and chilly Tuesday in October, and the East Recreation Center in Winona is alive with students practicing how to drum as part of a new program.
Through the program, which is named Winona Little Warriors, students from the age of six to 16 learn about drumming and respecting one another, said Lydia Boysen, a recreation coordinator for Winona Park and Recreation. She stated that the students are empowered by participating in the program.
A GoFundMe online fundraiser is seeking donations that will go toward purchasing drums, sticks, mallets and uniforms for the students, who currently practice drumming on large bright green buckets in a mirror-lined side room at the recreation center.
Boysen shared that the program is overseen by Andre Bailey, the father of several students who attend the recreation center. The program is not an official Park and Recreation program, she added. It began a few months ago.
Bailey has taken part in drum corps as both a performer and a director, Boysen explained. He has been involved with drum corps since he was in sixth grade. She said he wished to start a drum corps here in town now that he has children and they are at the proper age to participate.
In addition to practicing twice each week, the students will occasionally have a meeting on a Saturday, Boysen explained. People to whom the students will look up and view as role models attend some meetings to discuss their life experiences and principles such as helping to prevent bullying, she said.
Boysen said Bailey’s wife started a group called Mother’s Magic with fellow mothers of students in the program. With the group, the mothers aim to instill an appreciation for academic success and values such as kindness in the students, she stated.
The mothers might help the students with homework for about an hour after a practice, for instance, Boysen shared.
The Little Warriors meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Boysen said. Their practices are each about an hour long.
“They’re awesome,” said one student at the recreation center while the Little Warriors practiced.
“They’re amazingly perfect,” added another student at the recreation center during the Little Warriors’ practice.
The students in the program hope to perform, Boysen said. The Little Warriors have played at the Game Day Experience before a Winona State University football game and will do so again this weekend, she shared.
The students will also perform at the annual community Thanksgiving dinner which will be held at the recreation center on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
The dinner is open to all those who wish to attend, Boysen explained. She added that around 400 to 450 people typically go to the dinner.
“We like to bring in some musicians to create an ambiance,” Boysen said, “so we’re going to bring in a little drumming.”
The Little Warriors’ GoFundMe can be found online at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-raise-money-for-drums-amp-sticks.