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DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) — “It’s pretty important because this is the place where I got to learn to guitar,” said José Ballesteros Lopez.

José Ballesteros Lopez, 12, plays in a band at Compás – a non-profit community center in Southwest Detroit.

“There aren’t a lot of programs that exist today in this area that keep the culture and the heritage to the forefront,” said Tonia Patino.

Co-chair for the Southwest Detroit Business Association and growing up in Southwest Detroit Tonia Patino knows how important the center is to the community.

Compás offers youth focused classes in the arts emphasizing on the areas Latino culture.

“When you come here, you find other people like you,” said Patino.

As school programs disappeared –the center has thrived by giving kids a year-round neighborhood space to be creative and safe.

“It’s just having a resource for the kids, to have them in a center that’s in a controlled environment where they’re learning something vs. finding something to get into,” said Patino.

With a variety of classes taught-percussion has been a favorite!

“I think it’s good for us to come here because we have teachers show us what to do,” said Derian Rojo.

“You see these students more interested in music, more interested in wanting to learn more and that’s something that, really, we can’t teach that,” said teacher Giovanni Calanderino.

Developing life skills through teamwork!

“It’s really important for people to understand who they are, where they come from and if connecting through the arts is a way to learn that than I think that’s important,” said Patino.

“Compás has like, always been there for me to help me with music and learning new things and I really like this program,” said Juan Gutierrez.

“It feels nice because I get to play the music,” said José Ballesteros Lopez.

Learn more about the Run of the Dead in southwest Detroit here

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