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News suits given to at-risk teens through 'Suit Up & Show Up' empowers them to succeed

Posted at 6:55 PM, Jan 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-18 18:57:31-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Dozens of teenagers who are considered “at-risk” are being given a new suit and skills to empower them.

The program is called “Suit Up & Show Up.”

Maleek Moreno is only 17, but he has big dreams.

"I want to be a professional fisherman or play major league baseball," said Moreno.

It's something he’s dreamed of his whole life and something that takes a lot of professional skills

"Be prepared, stay focused, and don’t play around because you can miss opportunities," said Moreno.

Moreno and 90 other teeange boys who are considered “at-risk” (because of their neighborhood, grades or family situation) were given a lesson from mentors on how to be professional young men.

"We wrap our arms around them and teach them all kinds of leadership training programs and at the end of it we present them with a suit," said Ernest Coney, CDC Tampa CEO.

The teens go home with a tailor-fitted suit, shirt, tie, belt, socks, shoes and all the skills they need to be successful.

The program, now in its sixth year, is inspired by the tragic death of 17-year-old John Singleton, who was caught in crossfire, and never wore a suit until his funeral.

"Suit Up & Show Up’s" purpose is to prevent that from happening to another teen.

"The suit just represents their ability to achieve greatness and know that the community is investing in them," said Coney.