Music program helps expose kids to the arts

Don't Miss A Beat offers music education to targeted group of children

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Don't Miss A Beat was founded in 2008 by a mother and son duo who live in Jacksonville.

Ulysses Owens and his mother, Gwen, started the nonprofit organization with the objective to help suspended students stay in school so they wouldn't "miss a beat."

Since then, the program, which caters to children between 5 and 15 years old, has evolved to include the performing arts, academic enrichment and civic engagement, as well as job skills training for parents.

"I felt places like Los Angeles and New York were already saturated by programs like these, and I felt like it was really needed here," said Owens, who decided to come back to Jacksonville after graduating from The Julliard School in New York City.

Kids who qualify for free or reduced lunch are eligible to participate in Don't Miss A Beat.

"Not that they have some special need, but really those are the ones who maybe can't afford a program like this," Gwen Owens said. "There are a lot of programs in Jacksonville that are a lot more expensive. So we provide the best talent, we provide the best training, the best education at a minimum cost."

Don't Miss A Beat has a six-week summer program and also offers homework assistance to children 5-18 years old during the school year from 3-6 p.m. It meets at the J.S. Johnson Community Center in Brooklyn, west of downtown Jacksonville.

The group has an opportunity to send 12 local children to Paris this summer, but needs help funding the trip.

There will also be a performance featuring local children as well as children from Paris and Africa later this month at the Karpeles Museum in Springfield on July 26. It begins at 1 p.m. and is free to the public.

To learn more about getting your child involved in Don't Miss a Beat or to donate to the group's Paris trip, click here.

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