WINONA Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – This week we are bringing you our next County by County, this time Winona edition. Starting with a father, who after seeing his son get into a fight, took it upon himself to create a constructive after-school activity.

Tuesdays and Thursdays get loud at the East End rec center in Winona. There, you’ll find Andre Bailey leading practices of the Little Warriors drumline. The program started in 2019 after Bailey’s son had a negative experience at the rec.

“He was out there fighting outside, and one of the kids videotaped it and it went viral. His principal called me and my wife and was like hey, you need to see this, and then we saw it, it was my son being demolished, and that broke my heart,” said Bailey.

Bailey wanted to create a constructive after-school activity for kids.

“Nobody was utilizing the rec, and I came over here and talked to the lady and I asked her if I could borrow this space, we were in this room right here, this small room. Then what I did is I went out and got some buckets, we were practicing, and I just taught them all individually how to play,” said Bailey.

Bailey has been involved in marching bands since he was young and was a drum major at Jackson State University. Interest in the program quickly grew, leading to an investment in actual instruments.

“The first place we performed was Winona State, and we performed there on buckets, and I told them the next time we come back, we’re going to have drums. Me and my wife, we come out of our pocket, and we bought maybe like $6,000 worth of drums, and we took off, it just took off ever since then,” said Bailey.

Little warriors started with 12 members and now has about 30. Eighth-grader Nikoli Volkman has been involved since the beginning.

“Mainly I decided to stick with it because it sounded like something fun to do, and I started to enjoy it and get better. After practicing for like an hour a day, it gets really good and fun,” said Volkman.

“It’s weird like I didn’t think that many people would really be interested in it, but then I found out there was a bunch of people. I got some of my friends to join like my one best friend, but he moved. He was in the drumline before, and it was nice having people that I was really close with in the drumline,” said Volkman.

Volkman has become one of the most versatile members of little warriors.

“I remember, I’ve been on so many different drums, I remember my first drum was the bass drum, I moved up to snare, roll tom, it was super fun and I just decided to stick with it for a while. I’d assume we could do good things, and yeah we did,” said Volkman.

Bailey says he’s proud of how Volkman and other members have developed over the years. He hopes the program will help them grow in certain aspects of their lives.

“Self-esteem, because this is a program that builds the kid’s self-esteem, and they need that. It’s kind of like a family too; I’m teaching them about family, you know that ‘each one, reach one; each one, teach one’,” said Bailey.

All in all, bailey has one main goal for the kids.

“I want them to have fun, that’s the whole key, even if they mess up, you’re still having fun,” said Bailey.

Little warriors have gained great traction in the community since its inception, but bailey says there’s more work to do.

“I want to get on the west end of town, those kids don’t have this, what we have on the east side. My goal is to spread out and get to as many of those kids as I can because they are our future, and I support our future, especially the young folk,” said Bailey.

The drumline has performed during halftime of Winona State and other area high school games, as part of local parades, and at festivals like Ashley for the Arts.

The drumline consists of kids between the ages of 6 and 17. The program is free of charge, and no drumming experience is required to be part of the group.