KLD KIDS: Empowering Young People, One At a Time
By Maria Sonnenberg // October 17, 2013
ABOVE VIDEO: KLD’s mission is to change lives by educating and empowering young people, one life at a time. To accomplish this, KLD designs individual plans for each child to holistically develop his or her body, mind and spirit. “The key to our success is the personal, individualized attention we give to each particular challenge of each student.”
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – KLD Kids in Merritt Island are all about nurturing youngsters who might otherwise lag behind. The community based organization focuses on educating youth at risk of not graduating because of social or emotional issues.
In this Merritt Island learning center for kindergarteners through seniors in high school, 100 students arrive from all types of situations.
They may be disabled, or from very low-income, single parent households. They may have been abused or lived through the murder of a family member. They may suffer from autism or similar disorders.
“These are the children who are often left behind,” said president and CEO Janet Shaffer.
At KLD, the odds are, for the very first time, in their favor. A one-to-eight teacher/student ratio insures the attention these students need and deserve.
“At KLD, we are breaking the dropout factory mold, because 98 percent of all incoming seniors at KLD graduate,” said Shaffer.
“At KLD, we are breaking the dropout factory mold, because 98 percent of all incoming seniors at KLD graduate,” said Janet Shaffer.
“These are kids that would otherwise have a 28 percent graduation rate. These are kids who aren’t achieving in a regular school setting.”
KLD changes lives by educating and empowering these young people – one life at a time – through a holistic, individualized approach that offers real-world learning partnered with the enrichment and stimulation necessary to develop academic achievement, social skills and creativity.
The nonprofit has developed a core program that includes subjects such as agriculture, environmental science, culinary arts, flight school and even an equestrian program.
“We have a unique approach to hands-on learning using a sustainable learning environment,” said Barbara Nabors, the organization’s project development director.
Students are helped to develop critical thinking, social and communication skills in a non-traditional setting founded upon core interdisciplinary academic studies.
KLD’s agricultural program, for example, nurtures an appreciation of stewardship of the environment as students investigate the environmental benefits of a hydroponics system by comparing and contrasting soil-free farming to traditional farming methods.
The students will also learn rules of economics as they prepare their produce for market at local restaurants.
KLD’s culinary arts program, which trains students in cooking, baking, restaurant service and management in a full-service on-site restaurant, introduces real world hospitality service situations that nurture workplace skills students can later transfer to a workplace.
They leave with an edge that will help them gain admittance into a career or college-level culinary programs.
DANCING WITH BREVARD
Half of the organization’s budget is raised through Dancing with Brevard, an event that for ten years has encouraged community leaders to kick up their heels to the tune of $400,000 a year.
Each one of the 15 individuals chosen to compete in a given year is committed to raising at least $10,000. Many raise as much as $50,000 apiece.
KLD’s new campus in Merritt Island will allow the program to whittle down a growing waiting list by serving up to 150 students. The learning center hopes to eventually expand to serve 300 students.
“We are a path that leads to new hope and a vision for a positive end,” said Shaffer.
ABOUT THE 2013 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIAN AWARDS
The Central Florida Humanitarian Awards were created to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that dedicate their Time, Talent or Treasure to help people in need locally – and around the world.
This year, more than 30 deserving humanitarians will be honored during the Gala, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, with the festivities beginning at 6 p.m.
“Over the years, our editorial team has had the distinct honor and pleasure of identifying and featuring the many members of our community who give back so much and are dedicated to reaching out and helping others, here and throughout the world, in a multitude of ways,” said Maverick Multimedia Editor-In-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo.
“We remain firmly committed to identifying and telling those stories and providing a timely media platform to recognize Space Coast and Central Florida residents’ altruistic contributions on a regular basis in our magazines, as well as SpaceCoastDaily.com,” said Dr. Palermo.
This inspiring and compelling event is sponsored by Brighthouse Networks, Health First, Brevard Physicians Network, MPAC ACO, Community Credit Union, Knudson Brain & Spine Law Injury Office, Florida Pain, Space Coast Medicine & Active Living magazine, CentralFloridaMedicine.com and SpaceCoastDaily.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION or to make a reservation to attend the Central Florida Humanitarian Awards Gala call 321-615-8111 or e-mail SpaceCoastMedicine@gmail.com.