Carnival partners with Guitars Over Guns to give at-risk youth an amazing musical experience

Written By Josie Gulliksen
May 11, 2018 at 3:57 PM

Carnival Cruise Line’s entertainment team recently provided an unforgettable experience for the at-risk youth musicians and singers in the Guitars Over Guns program. They opened their state-of-the-art rehearsal studios in Davie, FL for a day-long musical workshop.

The cruise line giant and non-profit organization were brought together by Carrie Klimczak-Folse, Carnival’s director of IT Planning & Management and a member of Leadership Miami, who first helped with the Guitars Over Guns graduation at Marlins Park in 2017.

“It was Carrie’s familiarization with our program that spawned the idea of connecting the entertainment side of Carnival with our Guitars Over Guns students,” said Jono De Leon, chief operating officer of Guitars Over Guns. GOGO is a non-profit organization that delivers high-impact arts-based mentoring programs to empower at-risk youth.

Spending the day at the rehearsal studios was the ultimate in mentorship for the students, who arrived and within minutes, were busy jamming in several of the rehearsal rooms. The kids took full advantage of their time there and the connection with Carnival’s entertainment crew was immediate.

“Within 15 minutes jam sessions were going in three different room with both kids from our different school and Carnival musicians stepping in on keyboards and other instruments,” said De Leon.

During the workshop, which was conducted by members of Carnival’s entertainment team, GOGO ambassadors got a first-hand look at musical, technical and backstage career opportunities with interactive seminars and presentations designed to inspire the aspiring young artists.  The day culminated with a musical showcase featuring the Guitars Over Guns youth ambassadors.

GOGO students perform to end the day-long workshop and get some help from GOGO Founder & CEO Chad Bernstein on trombone. (Photos courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

“This workshop gave us an opportunity to open our students’ eyes into the different career paths they can pursue with their music,” said De Leon. “It allowed us to bring those students that are excelling in the program into a structured environment guided and enriched by the Carnival musicians.”

Following the musical showcase, Carnival completed the experience by donating the equipment used that day, including five baby grand pianos, drum sets, Nord keyboards, amps and more, to the GOGO organization.

“Our wish is that this workshop is a kick-off to a longstanding partnership with Carnival Cruise Line,” said DeLeon. “Hopefully in the future, our kids can come in and watch Carnival musicians rehearse as another way to experience professional musicians in action.”

Learn more about Guitars Over Guns, their mission, programs and initiatives and where they’ll be performing next on their website

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