AMIkids Space Coast Graduates Overcome Adversity
By Ed Pierce // May 2, 2012
Turning Lives Around
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Graduation is a time usually reserved for a celebration of achievement, but for a number of young men completing the program at AMIkids Space Coast on Wednesday morning, it was a triumph over adversity and a realization that each of their lives has potential.
Formerly known as the Space Coast Marine Institute, AMIkids Space Coast is a partnership of public and private resources that serves as a six to nine-month moderate security residential security facility for boys ages 14 to 18 who have committed crimes.
Each participant in the program is referred there by the Department of Juvenile Justice and they typically arrive without self-esteem or the ability to interact positively with others.
AMIkids Space Coast is dedicated to protecting public safety and impacting as many young men as possible in a positive manner through education, counseling, behavior modification and treatment.
The program is rigorous and offers courses of academic and vocational studies and mental health awareness activities.
As a Brevard County Public Schools alternative site, AMIkids Space Coast offers class levels that range from Exceptional Student Education to GED preparation.
Many students enrolled in the program have few high school credits, but most are able to advance by an average of 2.5 grade level during their stay.
Besides providing an individual plan of academics, AMIkids Space Coast provides each participant with a routine that instills self-confidence and offers them insight into understanding the world we live in.
State Rep. Steve Crisafulli of Merritt Island, who represents Florida District 32, was guest speaker at the graduation ceremonies.
He told the group of graduates and other program participants that if they carry with them what they learned in the AMIkids program, he’s confident good things will happen for them.
“I believe in you guys and I believe in this program,” Crisafulli said. “Many of you have been given a second, third and fourth chance. I look forward to your success.”
Following the graduation ceremony, Crisafulli said he’s proud of the work being done at AMIkids Space Coast.
“The reason I am here is because I can see the success level of this program,” he said. “Since my first visit here in 2010, I’ve been engaged in following this program. I truly believe they are having great success here.”
AMIkids Space Coast executive director Marvin Ferrell said he’s grateful that Crisafulli made time in his busy schedule to attend the graduation ceremony.
“I think it shows he’s in touch with the impact of the services we provide with this program,” Ferrell said.
He said the graduation ceremony is a tremendous source of pride to participants who completed the program Wednesday.
“For a lot of young men in the program, it’s the first time they’ve ever finished anything in their lives,” Ferrell said. “It’s very rewarding to have our board members and those in the community, parents and families take the time to come to our graduation. It says a lot about our program, but also about the individuals who are graduating.”