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New Town Success Zone Becomes Florida Children's Initiative
Irvin PeDro Cohen, Betty Burney, Paula Wright, Pam Paul, Winnie Heggins, Linda Lanier, Nat Glover
Irvin PeDro Cohen, Betty Burney, Paula Wright, Pam Paul, Winnie Heggins, Linda Lanier, Nat Glover
During the Duval County School Board meeting on March 6, the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida bestowed the designation of Florida Children'sInitiative upon New town Success Zone.  


This designation, awarded on behalf of the State of Florida, was created by the Florida Legislature in 2008 (FS409.147) to encourage communities to identify at-risk neighborhoods, and to empower those neighborhoods to address concerns related to the well-being of their children.


Under the leadership of Edward Waters College and the Jacksonville Children's Commission, New Town Success Zone project has implemented programs and strategies based on the Harlem Children's Zone model. New Town Success Zone employs creative outreach to engage a critical mass of children from the New Town and College Gardens areas and link them to positive post-secondary outcomes such as college enrollment, military enlistment or career technical training courses. The services provided in order to reach these outcomes include pre-kindergarten education, parenting education, healthcare mentoring and after school programming.


Click here to read the latest New Town Success Zone newsletter. For information about New Town Success Zone visit www.newtownsuccesszone.com .

Parramore Kidz Zone Update 


Kanicka Johnson with daughter Kambria
Kanicka Johnson with daughter Kambria

PKZ Baby Institute Graduation

The Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ) Baby Institute launched its third session in January 2012. The graduation ceremony for the PKZ Baby Institute was held on March 24th at the Dr. J. B. Callahan Neighborhood Center. The event featured testimonials and performances by both participants and their children. The PKZ Baby Institute serves parents of children from ages birth to five residing in the Parramore Heritage community. The nine-week Baby Institute is designed to help parents develop the skills that lead to better parenting in order to foster school- readiness in young children. The PKZ Baby Institute is a holistic approach to parenting skill development which also addresses issues such as employment, goal setting, decision making and healthy living.


For more information, call 407.292.6500 or visit www.cityoforlando.net/pkz.

PKZ attends Pathways in Law Program
PKZ attends Pathways in Law Program

Pathways in Law Program 

Parramore Kidz Zone, After-School All-Stars and Harvest Baptist Christian Academy participated in the annual Pathways in Law program. The Pathways in Law program is designed to introduce area youth to career opportunities in the legal profession and encourage hard work to achieve educational goals. The program was held at the Orange County Courthouse and focused on careers in law enforcement and criminal justice. Legal professionals, including Judge Faye Allen and Judge Bob LeBlanc, addressed the group describing the positions they hold and the education required to do their jobs. The day also included a session from The League of Women Voters on the importance of participating in the democratic process.


Mayor Buddy Dyer and PKZ volunteers
Mayor Buddy Dyer and PKZ volunteers

Refresh Orlando 

Color Wheel Paint partnered with the City of Orlando and various local businesses to spearhead Refresh Orlando, an effort to bring new life to the long standing Downtown Orlando Recreation Complex. 250 volunteers assisted in the transformation of this wonderful, old, art deco era building. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was present to kick off the job with the first brush strokes of paint and to thank sponsors and volunteers for supporting the community.  

mayor Buddy Dyer
Mayor Buddy Dyer


The Orlando Downtown Recreation Complex houses Parramore Kidz Zone and many of its partner programs. As a result of Refresh Orlando, the facility has been restored as a neighborhood landmark of which Parramore youth can be proud of.


In addition to work done by volunteers, Braven Painting donated labor to prepare the building and completed the finishing touches on its new look. 

Dwight Howard, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Phillip Gordon and Bri-Nhiya Upshaw
Dwight Howard, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Phillip Gordon and Bri-Nhiya Upshaw

D12 Foundation Day

In February, Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard celebrated the first anniversary of his D12 Foundation with over 300 Parramore community youth. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was on hand to commend Howard's contributions to the community and to proclaim D12 Foundation Day in the city of Orlando. Parramore youth, Phillip Gordon and Bri-Nhiya Upshaw spoke about the personal impact Howard's generosity has had in their daily lives. The children were also given the chance to bond with their hometown hero as they enjoyed a carnival-like event complete with face painting, clowns, bounce houses and a variety of treats.


Dwight Howard's D12 Foundation aims to positively impact children worldwide. This year, he supported several Orlando non-profit organizations, including Mayor Dyer's Parramore Kidz Zone. Whether he is making charitable contributions or encouraging students to excel in school, Dwight is determined to help Orlando's youth become successful, strong leaders of the future.


For more information on D12 Foundation visit: http://www.d12foundation.org/

Miami Children's Initiative Update 


Arts for Learning
African Heritage Cultural Arts Center

Arts for Learning

MCI is partnering with Arts for Learning to revitalize arts-based learning programs for the children and families of Liberty City. The arts-based programs are implemented through early learning centers, schools, and community buildings such as the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center.


Effective arts programs expose young people to new opportunities and experiences that can redefine the way they view themselves and how they present themselves to the community. Children's minds develop by participating in activities that encourage higher-level thinking and stimulate their imaginations. Through studying and participating in the arts, problem-solving and critical thinking skills are strengthened. Students develop a positive work ethic and pride in a job well done though goal setting, quality craftsmanship, and accepting the responsibility to see a project through to completion.


Buddy Reading Program

MCI launched its Buddy Reading program at Charles R. Drew Elementary School. The initiative is a mentoring program in which six seventh-grade students from the college-prep program AVID read to the two classrooms of kindergarten students. MCI staff worked with the curriculum specialist from the Charles R. Drew middle and elementary schools to learn the scope and sequence of both seventh-grade Language Arts and Kindergarten curriculum in order to match up common benchmarks. In collaboration with the classroom teachers, the staff chose common themed, age-appropriate books that were supported by both curriculums and also offered in a "Big Books" format.The student readers also engage the kindergartners in discussion and projects that support family structure, traditions, and cultural diversity. The program helps prepare the students for the Kindergarten Standardized Achievement Tests.  The six session program will run through June.


Spring Break Camp
Spring Break Campers 2012

Spring Break Camp

MCI held its first Spring Break Camp for students at Charles Drew Middle School.  The one week enrichment program is a component of MCI's IGNITE (Innovatively Growing Notable Individuals Through Education) initiative designed to increase student's self-esteem and self-awareness during the critical stages of growth and development.  The camp included interactive lessons focused on career exploration as well as off-site daily excursions to museums, zoos, and college campuses. IGNITE is a year round program.


Head Start Training

MCI hosted a workshop for Liberty City Early Care and Education providers interested in providing Miami-Dade County Head Start services.  Over twenty providers attended the two workshops. The workshops were conducted by the directors of NAYEC accredited facilities that are currently Head Start delegates with Miami-Dade County. 


For more information about these programs visit www.miamichildrensinitiative.org