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AMIkids Miami-Dade Turns Troubled Lives Around

Angel Terrero was raised in an abusive home and spent his teen years with gangs and criminal activities. Today, he is studying psychology in graduate school and serving as a minister at his church, thanks to the life-changing support he received from AMIkids Miami-Dade. "At AMIkids, I learned many lessons, including the value of discipline and respect,” he said. “Today, I believe you can achieve anything if you are willing to work for it."

Since 1974, AMIkids Miami-Dade has been helping troubled kids like Angel discover their potential, transform their lives and embark on rewarding careers. "Before entering our program, many of our students never had anyone invest in their academic, social, or professional success,” said Corey Lee, board president.

AMIkids shows young people that they can be successful and become outstanding citizens.” 

AMIkids Miami-Dade provides services to over 300 youth in Miami-Dade County on its north and south campuses, using an evidence-based personal growth model to address their educational, behavior, and treatment needs. Students from age 13 to 18 take classes, participate in vocational training and engage in meaningful community activities. They spend an average of three to six months in the program.

“We serve as ambassadors and advocates for at-risk youth, said Enrique Garcia, executive director of the North Campus. "We strive to give them the tools they need to be successful and to keep them in school, help them achieve employment, and so that they have a chance at a better life.”

Terrance Levell, executive director of the South Campus, added, “What makes our program successful is the bonds that our staff build with the youth, which encourages them to transform their anti-social behaviors. In fact, the vast majority of participants remain crime free after they graduate from our program.”

Another factor in AMIkids Miami-Dade’s success rate is its focus on providing students with employment opportunities. "Our students engage in scuba diving, seamanship instruction, kayaking, and other adventures," said Lyndall Lambert, board chair. "We teach and certify our kids in safe food handling practices so they can be employed part-time in restaurants while they attend school. We also teach our interested students safe carpentry and construction skills, which also helps with future employment.”

To support its program, AMIkids Miami-Dade welcomes professionals, business leaders, and other volunteers to provide guidance, assist with fundraising, and serve as mentors. “Community outreach is very important for our students, said Laise Lowachee, board secretary. “Bonding with successful adults in a mentoring relationship helps our youth understand what they need to do to achieve their full potential.”

The AMIkids Miami-Dade Masquerade Party Fundraiser will be held October 21 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Marenas Beach Resort, 18683 Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles Beach. Visit www.amikidsmiamidade.org for more information.

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