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Sacramento music program that gives kids safe outlet for expression gets expansion

By James Taylor

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    SACRAMENTO, California (KOVR) — An organization that gives kids a safe outlet for expression has a new high-tech home. It comes at a time when youth violence is on the rise across the Sacramento region.

Khapree Bell uses music as a way to deal with hardships.

“I’ve known nothing but struggle my whole life,” he said.

Bell admits to getting in trouble during his younger days.

“It’s all good,” he said. “You live and you learn.”

However, Bell said creating lyrics and beats is allowing him to overcome life challenges that include the untimely death of his sister last December.

“What helped me get through that was just writing, and it helped me get it off my chest,” he said.

Bell is one of several thousand students participating in the Department of Sound, a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization that gives kids a safe way to express themselves.

“They love it,” said Benwar Shepard, Department of Sound education director. “Their eyes light up and it’s like a new possibility.”

Each drum beat and musical note gives them an alternative to gangs, drugs, and violence on the streets.

“Kids love music, and you give them the tools to get going and it’s crazy to see what they do,” said Department of Sound CEO John Hamilton Hodgson.

Those tools now include a new state-of-the-art sound studio where they can record their artistic works in a professional setting.

“Sound is a powerful tool for communication and we want to get that tool out to as many people as we can,” Hamilton Hodgson said.

He added that the Department of Sound is a popular program, and they have more demand than they do space.

Bell said his life would be a lot different if these mentors and friends were not around to help.

“They grab you up out of whatever situation you was in and put you in a better one,” he said.

The Department of Sound relies on government grants and local business donations for its funding. They’re hoping to expand their program as more money is raised.

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