Tampa Police fostering relationships with at-risk youth

AMI Kids program expanding nationwide
Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-14 17:54:06-05

A Tampa program is about to be replicated across the country.  The goal is to help improve the outlook and success of at-risk kids.

Things like stuffing banana bunches and cabbages into a sack might look like a lesson in grocery bagging, but it is actually helping build relationships and teach life skills to at-risk kids.

"We are one family, and we support each other and that's huge for us," said Heyward Golden, AMI Kids Seniro Vice President of Operations.

The AMI Kids students spent the day volunteering side by side with police officers as part of the Building Bridges program.

"We're trying to really get them to start thinking of things positively, to start thinking about their future; to value education and to see law enforcement as a tool they can use to be successful," said Officer Gig Brown with Tampa Police.

And the effort seems to be working.

Rockeon Scott says having positive role models and learning workplace skills while going to school have brightened his outlook on life.

"I'm very optimistic.  Not only that but it's made me feel much better about myself and I'm much more kind to people," Scott said.

Working with these police officers is just another layer of support in helping kids like him avoid trouble and find success.

"When I'm here, I feel like I can be myself and actually be who I want to be," said Scott.

That's why breaking barriers is now a year-round program in Tampa, and launching as a national effort.
Rockeon is just 15 years old, but is already dreaming about college and wants more kids like him to give this program a shot.

"It might seem small now but sooner or later in the future it'll be a big thing for you," Scott said.

AMI Kids Tampa is open year round for  boys ages 11 to 17. The program has open enrollment  and is referral based. For more information please contact the school at (813) 248-5091.

State lawmakers are also considering expanding an effort called "the success zone" to Tampa, which would offer even more opportunities for education and career training to at-risk kids.