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Playground Build Day

On March 30th, 2013, more than 450 people across Miami-Dade came together to support one common goal: build the children of Liberty City a brand new playground. MCI, with tremendous support from KaBOOM! and the Knight Foundation, shared a part in making this playground happen, but the driving force was the community itself. ALittle Girl on Playground   group of concerned and dedicated parents from the community made up the planning team, sitting in on meetings each week to cover all facets of the planning process. Children that will directly benefit from this playground sat in on the design day, during which they lent their thoughts as to what the playground should look and feel like. On the day of the event, hundreds of people from the community itself, along with other people who love this community, came out to build their playground. In the end, it's not about the playground itself, but the process. It's about what happens when people come together around a common goal and unite under one purpose.


Build day was magical! People from all walks of life came out that day to work on a plethora of projects. Some dug holes, some spread mulch, some worked on putting playground equipment together, while others read and played games with children in the Kids Zone. Regardless of zip code, economic status, or level of fame, everyone shared an equal part in making this playground a reality that day. The love for and commitment to this community and the children and families who live here was evident. The energy and excitement, things that are often too abstract to grasp, was inexplicably tangible that day. Above all, a sense of hopefulness and joy filled the entire group up, and that excitement still lingers. We feel that this- not the playground itself, is the true win for our community. The collaboration, unification, and positive energy that was created by accomplishing this project is what matters at the end of the day.


MCI is proud to be a contributor to this playground. We feel that this playground is a testament to our commitment to do things differently. For starters, we hope that our contribution shows a willingness and eagerness to listen to the community we serve and to act on what we hear. Further, we are demonstrating our belief in and support for allMCI Logo   Liberty City residents. Without the parents and residents, this playground could not have been built. It's only from their hard work and dedication to their children that this dream has been realized. Similarly, with parents and residents, Liberty City will build and live into its future where the potential of every child is unleashed and their dreams can be realized.


What does this mean for the future of Liberty City? To MCI and its families, it means that anything is possible. While we all know that there is power in numbers, this project is direct evidence that when the entire community comes together, magic can happen. This community can be transformed, one project at a time, as long as we continue to unite under one common agenda. MCI is based on a simple premise: bring people together-adopt a shared vision, adopt common goals, and hold each other accountable for the lives our children are leading. We can change lives. This playground is just the beginning of turning Liberty City's dreams into reality.


Click here to view the channel 10 coverage of Community Build Playground Day.


For more information of what's happening at Miami Children's Initiative, click here to read their latest newsletter.

Parramore Kidz Zone 


Ringling Brothers And Barnum & Bailey® Teamed up with Parramore Kidz Zone 
Just in time to kick off the New Year with a healthy start, clowns and performers from Ringling Brothers® encouraged Parramore youth to put Fun in the Fundamentals of Fitness through CircusFit®, a national youth fitness program. The entertaining and interactive program combined the fun of circus skills with stretching, strength building and aerobic exercise.

Clowns and Dancers
High energy clowns and dancers taught PKZ the importance of fitness and a healthy lifestyle


PKZ aims to reduce juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, and high school drop-out rates in Orlando's highest poverty and highest crime neighborhood. For more information on PKZ visit cityoforlando.net/pkz. Also, check out event photos on facebook.com/pkzorlando



Atkins Foundation Donates $10,000  

For the fifth year, PKZ was presented with a $10,000 donation from the Atkins Foundation. The Foundation was established in 2006 by Atkins (www.atkinsglobal.com), an international design, engineering and project management firm with offices in Orlando. The Atkins Foundation believes that success in school will help reduce the occurrence of juvenile crime and teen pregnancy. The donation will provide funding for education programs for PKZ youth.

Matt Taylor, Sue Gratch and Joseph Perri from Atkins
Matt Taylor, Sue Gratch and Joseph Perri from Atkins attended the Orlando City Council meeting to present the check to Mayor Buddy Dyer



Improving Reading Skills

Congratulations Kymontae
Congratulations Kymontae!


PKZ helps children do well in school by connecting students with teachers and tutors after school.  This gives children extra time to learn which helps them stay on track and keep up in school.

PKZ after-school teacher Robin Frisella provides a small group of first and second graders struggling with basic reading skills one on one tutoring to improve their reading level and build confidence in their ability to learn.

One of her success stories is first grader Kymontae.  With Robin's help, Kymontae raised his reading score from below grade level to above grade level in less than a year. When he started the school year, he only knew the sounds of letters. He is now reading with confidence and fluency."


By providing individual academic support beyond the regular school day, PKZ youth are much less likely to fall between the cracks. 



Juvenile Arrests Downward Trend Continues

The 2012 juvenile arrest data for Parramore is in and the downward trend continues for the sixth year in a row. Specified juvenile arrests are down 87.5% in Parramore since PKZ started in 2006. Juvenile arrests are also down 71.2% citywide.

 Juvenile Arrests Chart 

This is great news for the City of Orlando and great news for Parramore's children.

New Town Success Zone 


The following excerpt is from an article published on April 4th by the Times Union in Jacksonville about the progress New Town Success Zone has made since its inception six years ago.


Success Zone in New Town is an impressive reality

Jacksonville's version of the Harlem Children's Zone couldn't possibly duplicate the Wall Street that funded grand idea or the charisma of Geoffrey Canada. But Jacksonville has its own personality. It's based on partnerships, collaboration, doing more with less. This personality was born long before the Great Recession. And it began about six years ago with a determination to do something grand though there was no budget to speak of and just one employee. That was Irvin PeDro Cohen, who once worked for the Children's Commission and eventually transferred over to Edward Waters College. In the meantime, though, the leaders of this grand experiment wouldn't let it die. Pam Paul, who turned volunteerism into something extraordinary, would not give up. Nat Glover was a retired sheriff when he suddenly was called to take over the presidency of his alma mater at Edward Waters College. Suddenly, the New Town Success Zone pieces started falling into place. With all the needy neighborhoods that qualify for the Success Zone, the area around New Town was selected because of its assets - specifically, Sylvia Johnson, then the principal of Eugene Butler Middle School, and Edward Waters College.


Good planning
Who could have imagined that Glover would be the president of EWC? But with Glover at the helm, raising awareness of funds for campus improvements, the original decision to concentrate on New Town looks brilliant."There truly is a new day here on the campus of EWC," said Cohen, director of the Success Zone. "It was just a dream," Paul said. "Good Lord, it's now a reality."


Recently, the New Town Success Zone held a meeting at a new building on the EWC campus, the Center for the Prevention of Health Disparities. The Success Zone had previously surveyed residents about their health status, making the new center a natural fit. The center connects higher education under one roof: teaching, research and service. It was a revelation for the few people who have followed the Success Zone since its beginning, which includes the Times-Union editorial page.


A long journey
The first meetings of the Success Zone were held in offices that were begged and borrowed. Now they are in a new building dedicated to researching health disparities in Northwest Jacksonville. The meeting, held just a few days before Easter, wasn't expected to be much. Would anyone show up? What a surprise. In attendance was a corps of police officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office who had left the Easter Week celebration they had been holding at a community center across from Butler Middle School. That center once had been shut down because it was a dangerous sore on the neighborhood. But the police officers spent time in the community, showed they cared, spent their own money for activities for the youth. And guess what? Crime dropped. And police took more than a narrow interest in the neighborhood. So when police call the city about code violations or trash in the street, city employees tend to jump.



Series of partnerships
Jacksonville's model is built on partnerships, which Jacksonville is uniquely suited to do. There are few other consolidated cities in America and fewer still that have turned consolidation into a specialty for collaborations. There is a long list of partners from government, nonprofit and business sectors that have thrown their weight to New Town. "Meanwhile, we pick up new partners who hear about us and want to participate," co-chair Paul wrote in an email. One key to the Success Zone's model is involvement from residents in every aspect, from the name to all the programs. Glover realized that was crucial and insisted on it. Involving the residents may take a bit longer on the front end, but that helps ensure success in the end.



To learn more about New Town Success Zone go to www.newtownsuccesszone.com  and click here to read their latest newsletter.