Troubled teens marching to a different beat

2:13 PM, May 18, 2010   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

KSDK- Life in Alton, Illinois has a new rhythm. You don't need stormy weather to hear thunder.

Introducing Delta Regiment. A volunteer teenage drum corps performing all over town including the parking lot of a Chiropractic clinic.

"I thought it was fantastic , " said one bystander.

Another added, "I thought it was great. It was lovely."

Those watching may not know it but as their spirits rise, barriers fall.

 

Delta Regiment was started by Alton native Mark North.

 

"When I was a kid I played drums , " he explains.

 

North came back to town in 2003,  after serving in the Navy and the Army and didn't like what he saw.

 

"You see where kids are breaking and entering, some are out prostituting or selling drugs, " he says.

 

So the regiment was started to give kids, especially the ones from broken and foster homes, a more positive way to express themselves.

 

"Kids heard us, " he explains. "And they started coming by and before we knew it we had more kids and had to get more equipment."

 

There are now nearly 90 members in the corps and they practice nearly everyday on Alby Street, at the North's modest home.  But nothing gets started until homework gets finished.

 

"When the kids first started coming to us, a lot of them were failing, " explains Mark's wife Kathleen.

 

Mark and Kathleen also act as tutors.

 

The most important lesson learned in this program however

can be summed up in one word, discipline.  Anything less is not tolerated.

 

"They run, they do pushups, we go on road marches with full equipment and the equipments heavy , " says North.

 

"We fully support what he's doing , " says Alton Police Chief David Hayes.

 

Chief David Hayes knows better than most, the kind of trouble teenagers can get into.

 

"What I like about Mark is that type of structure, that military background and experience that he has, he knows how to handle these kids, " says Hayes. "He does it with compassion but yet with sterness at the same time."

 

North also feeds the kids but because he's not a wealthy man and pays for the entire program out of his own pocket, they often get help

from a local food bank.

 

"These families, most of them are on limited income, " explains North. "They're getting food stamps. And when the kids come to the house they're hungry."

 

The Delta Regiment will perform just about anywhere they're invited including a parking lot and every member seems to have developed a sixth sense.  A sense of purpose.

 

"Most of these kids were mad at everybody. They didn't care about nobody. Now they actually have friends that they care about, " says Keegan North, Mark and Kathleen's son and a member of the regiment.

 

The North's long term dream is to build an academy and give all their members an opportunity to go to college

"We tell them all, the world is yours for the taking. You just have to do the work to get it, " says Kathleen.

 

Beating the drums for today's teenagers and trying to give them a world with a little more harmony.

 

"They're good kids. They're good kids, " says North.

 

For questions or more information, e-mail the Norths at deltaregiment@charter.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit www.myspace.com/deltaregiment for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

KSDK

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