Heights Youth Club and Marching Band

No. 51 Monday, February 08, 2010
Twenty-two year-old O'Brian Daley enjoys playing the drums in the Heights Youth Club and Marching Band. Traveling throughout Montego Bay to varied events, he gets to show his drum stroking techniques before audiences as varied as tourists in local resorts to happy children and weary workers going home from work.

   But, even more than this, Daley also loves the fact that when he goes out to play with his band mates they are also. raising funds for events which will make their home communities of Farm Heights, Rose Heights and Capital Heights a better place. 

   Farm Heights is a middle to lower income community adjacent to Rose Heights and Capital Heights which are lower income residential areas.
   There are many social needs in all three communities, which, for want of funding, have gone un-addressed. But now, with money contributed by the Heights Youth Club and Marching Band, residents can enjoy the benefits of projects including counseling sessions for parents and evening classes for students at primary, secondary or tertiary levels of education. These classes are often attended by as many as 80 individuals.
   The band which was created by Mr. Clifton Bennett - the first president of the Heights Youth Club and Marching Band - and a man who has been doing social work for much of his life. The band he created will be five years old this coming June.
   Instruments were collected
and the band size enlarged as funds were earned from projects. Today, the marching band includes 100 members who are
active in woodwind and percussion sections. The music played is a mixture of everything and depends upon what it is felt that
the occasion demands.

   The idea of a marching band for the community started when a group including Bennett himself came together and decided on a way in which they could motivate the young people in the community and get the children off the streets.
   They also wanted to raise money for a number of projects which they felt were needed for social upliftment of the area. 
   The band's first performance was an Independence Day concert in Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay in August of 2006. Heights Youth Club and Marching Band performed during the Independence Civic Ceremony and were paid approximately J$15,000.00 for their efforts. Since then they have been playing all over the island.
   They have also performed free for the Jamaica Cultural Development Centre (JCDC) Dance Competition shows, and for other civic events in Montego Bay, Lucea and Sav-la-mar.
    They also exhibit their talent at hotels during events and functions at IberoStar, Windam Rose Hall and Sandals and sometimes
they are hired to play in the streets of various communities to build up awareness and to gain community support.

   It is said that the Heights Youth Club and Marching Band are the most sought after marching group in the Western region of the island. They are currently contracted to the Sandals Hotel in Montego Bay where on (Monday) of every week they conduct a one-hour show.
    Funds earned are used for repair of instruments, to pay bills such as transport, and to support children who need help in the bands and for community projects. The budget is all encompassing.

   They were awarded 3rd place in the 2008 JCDC Jamaica Cultural Development Commission. Their objective for this year is working towards making enough funds to visit Memphis Tennessee to compete in the Drum Line Championship this year.
   Farm Heights, Rose Heights and Capital Heights have been benefiting from the band's music and other projects like the Peace Management Initiative Programme which was inaugurated to transform the culture of violence and bring about a pathway to peace in Jamaican communities.
    The western arm of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) was officially launched in Montego Bay, St. James, on Wednesday (April 27). The four year-old organization, which started in Kingston through the initiative of Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips, is an early intervention mechanism, which works proactively to prevent conflict from rising to the level of violence, and to strengthen civic organizations that provide stability, sustainable development, security and pride within inner-city communities.

   They have been working together with the CDC Community Development Committee and the CSJP Citizens and Justice of the Peace to train both parents and children. They have also helped students financially, for charitable purposes, from funds accumulated while performing a show at various events.
   "Our main purpose is to reach out to the community and to provide uneducated children and young adults with a choice of something to do. Our goal is to broaden children's knowledge overall to things they didn't know they posses," said Andrew Williams the current president of the group.
    The Heights Youth Club and Marching Band consists of 100 children and young adults ranging in ages 10 to (30) and is still growing everyday. Practice is held at the Farm Heights Community Center every Friday and Saturday evening.

   An all day fun day will be held on April 3rd, at the farm heights community centre in Montego Bay. All are invited to come and enjoy the all day event.
   Clifton Bennett and his marching band has been a positive force for change in the communities in which the band
makes its home. Not only have they been creating good music for the ears but they have also contributed to peace and development among those who need this most.

1 comment:

  1. Good presentation at Oakland, San Francisco, CA, a few weeks ago!!
    From Rafael Pratdesaba Band - Guatemala