HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – On Monday nights just as the Mermaid City winds down, a group of musicians from across the area is just beginning to feel the rhythm.

“Drums have been in Black culture for basically all of eternity because African drums, different types of African jazz bands, all of that … it brings a lot of Black cultures together,” said 15-year-old drummer KamRon Dixon.

Sit in on one practice and it’s easy to see the bridge the program creates between cultures and ages.

“It makes me feel good, super good, awesome,” KamRon said. “Like today I went and played some drums somewhere and I got some really good comments.”

“It boosts your confidence, right?” WAVY reporter Aesia Toliver asked them.

“Yes,” young drummers Jakari Ashby and Jamir Manley said, smiling.

KamRon described the atmosphere as “a whole big family – it’s a whole big group together keeping you safe.”

From littles ones who can’t ride a bike yet, to high schoolers looking to college, at Shark City Drum Corp, everyone can get involved.

“If you can push a 5-year-old to do it then there’s no excuse for a 10-year-old not to do it,” said Founder and Executive Director Frederick Dixon, who started the program a few years ago.

“A bunch of us were percussion instructors at different high schools we decided to bring all of our kids together because there was no need to keep them separately,” Dixon said. “We figured they’d be stronger as a group, so we decided to bring all these high schools together.

“Then we got to elementary schools, then we got to middle schools, then we have an autism class, and we have a senior citizen class as well. We have a lifelong learning program now in just three years.”

The nonprofit is one of a kind in the area, embracing the Black community, with Black teachers, and a Black board.

“You don’t see a lot of Black positive role models as a group that do things, and it happens to be like five of us, they work together, so it’s a positive thing for a bunch of Black positive role models as far as males go,” Dixon said. “Changes the narrative of what the world tells you about us. We’re not all thugs and criminals.”

Far from it – they’re big brothers and mentors – with the older kids setting the pace.

Fourth-grader Jamir Manley pays close attention.

“The technique of what they’re doing, what they do and how they like move their hands how they move the sticks and flip them up and down,” said drummer Jamir Manley.

KamRon said he practices for hours at home; keeping his mind on the beats and tempos.

“It could keep you away from trouble and also give you a lot of opportunity in the future,” KamRon said.

Dixon is hopeful the tempo they’ve set keeps them on the beat to a brighter future.

“As you know, violence in this area is kind of rising,” Dixon said, “so we figure if we get the kids here for a day, get them off the streets, they would stay. It’s been working so far, so far we’ve gotten a bunch of them off the streets. We got about 25 kids in college right now.”