By Carol Kinsley

A bright blue bus is taking creativity on the road for Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware. Outfitted by Erick and Krystle Lopez of Studio Express in Fort Myers, Fla., the bus is a mobile studio equipped for music production, podcasting, video recording and gaming. There’s also a wheelchair lift on-board to make it accessible to more kids.

Bernard Parker, music director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, brought the bus to the Farm Market and Community Day Aug. 17 in Seaford. He explained the bus is different from a “party bus” that might go to birthday parties. Usually such buses offer only one activity — video games or music. This bus has all those things and more in one vehicle. “It’s something not seen on the East Coast,” Parker said.

Bernard Parker, music director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, is the “maestro” of “the music bus” on which he teaches kids music production, television production and creative writing — in addition to drug and alcohol prevention. The idea of the bus stemmed from the success of a music studio in the teen center of the Greater Newark Boys & Girls Club. The bus can serve all of the 41 clubs in Delaware. Photo by Carol Kinsley

The idea for the bus began with a nationwide non-profit Music and Youth Initiative, a partner of the Boys & Girls Club of America, which offers youngsters access to music education and mentoring they wouldn’t otherwise have. Studios are equipped with state-of-the-art instruments and recording equipment.

Stuart Sherman, one of three vice presidents of operations for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware, explained, “We started with a music studio in our teen center (the Greater Newark Boys & Girls Club). There was a lot of support from the club right away, and the legislators who helped get the funding were also very enthusiastic.”

A federal Substance Abuse Block Grant funded the studio, Sherman added, but did not cover the bus itself. However, the bus will be very involved as an incentive for kids to do the drug prevention program that the grant covers, he explained.

Sherman, who has been with the Boys & Girls Clubs for 30 years, said the studio in Newark was so popular that other clubs in the state began asking, “How do we get one?”

Instead of building 41 additional studios, the organization came up with a mobile studio. Still, for one bus, 42 sites is a lot. The bus will be stationed in Wilmington. Sherman would like to see another bus for Sussex County, but that takes funding. Meanwhile, he’s looking for a secure place in the county to park the bus overnight.

“This bus would not have happened without the original studio success, and that is because of Bernard Parker. Without someone like him, we would not be expanding the program,” Sherman said.

It is difficult to convince a group of kids to come out to a drug prevention session. They don’t get enthusiastic when you say, ‘Hey, come for an opioid prevention class’,” Sherman continued. But when you invite them to write songs, do a podcast or make a movie, they are interested. And while they’re at it, they learn lessons that will help them in life. The bus will be used as a reward for students involved in Botvin LifeSkills Training.

Parker is the “maestro” behind all of the efforts. He teaches music production, television production and creative writing while at the same time promoting drug-free lives and building self esteem and sharing skills for the future.

Parker said the goal is for the bus to bring kids into the Boys and Girls Clubs, to drive up membership and to help prevent kids from doing drugs and drinking alcohol. “We want to keep them off the streets and keep with us a little longer,” he said.

On the bus, he introduces kids to creativity in many forms — in the form of music that can be utilized on your own podcast or while game streaming, for example. “I teach kids to produce things for themselves, to use their brains to create a way out of their situation, to create a better situation,” Parker said.

“A lot of kids resort to drugs or alcohol because they are not taught how to be creative. You don’t have to be a musician to make music, or a podcaster, or a gamer. What we’re teaching is how to be creative.”

Parker learned music and video skills from church at the age of 12. “I’ve been doing production music since I was 15,” he said. He attended Delcastle Technical High School in Wilmington, where he learned video and then the Art Institute of Philadelphia, where he learned music recording and video production. He also played in the Thomas McKean High School marching band.

He has worked as a disc jockey, but now he teaches teens how to do it, as well as how to edit and produce videos — “and they’ve gotten paid in both industries,” he said.

One group of teens recorded 10 minutes of music for Lionne Clothing to use at New York Fashion Week. Another group made a commercial for Kool Kolor Kids that has been shown on cable regionally.

Eventually, the bus will be available to go to family-friendly events where the bus can be promoted. Event organizers may contact Parker through his social media page on Instagram, @maverickstudiolive, or by email sent to

“First and foremost are Boys and Girls Clubs, then high schools and middle schools, and third, events. But contact me and I’ll try to fit you in,” he offered.