The south side of Chicago can be a tough place to grow up. High poverty levels give way to daily shootings, gang violence and an overall sense of fear among residents.

But in the midst of tragedy and chaos, shines a sliver of hope for Chicago kids and teens.

For 30 years, the South Shore Drill Team has acted as a refuge for Chicago’s youth — a place that instills respect, teamwork and self-esteem for 350 young men and women.

“The South Shore Drill team made me want to succeed in life,” declares 13-year old Durelle Davis.

[MSNBCMSN video=”″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”38027906^240^138380″ id=”msnbc25f6c”]

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Michael Borom has been a member since he was eight years old. Now, he holds a degree in Business and serves as Assistant Director of the Drill Team.

“A lot of kids come in with their heads down but once they get that first taste of performing…they realize, ‘man I can do whatever I want to do if I just believe in myself’,” boasts Borom.

Perhaps the most significant element of the Drill Team is the fact that it keeps kids off the street.

As 18-year old Elijah Thomas proclaims, “I don’t want people to look up to me because I’m doing anything bad, they should look up to me because I’m doing good things in my life.”