Charity Spotlight: AMIKids

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As we walked through the front doors of the Fort Walton Beach repurposed building, Audra Ray, the Executive Director of AMIkids Emerald Coast, greeted us with a young man, about 12 years old. He stood up tall, looked each of us in the eye, shook our hands and introduced himself. Impressive, I thought to myself. I don't know if I would have had the confidence to do that at the age of 12. We made our way into Audra's office where she told us about the students, what brought them to AMIkids, what we would see upstairs and how the structure of their program works. Directly addressing anger management, behaviroal issues, academic failure, addiction, mental healty daignoses, and legal consequences, AMIkids creates a personalized program for each child, mentoring them and offering them resume and job interview assistance to prepare them for the workforce and college. 

Audra walked us upstairs through each classroom where each student lined up, and greeted us the same way: with a firm handshake and introduction. My first thought, how innocent they all looked. How young they all are, and how they can be so many things and they have so much time in life to become something great. We were able to speak one on one with a few of the students and we were able to interview one of the teachers. As I stood behind the camera and listened as Laura from The StoryTellerAgency asked questions like, "What is one moment you felt like you really impacted a students life?" Or "Why do you do what you do?" my eyes welled up as she told us how she loves her job everyday, how giving each student positive reinforcement changes their whole perspective. She told us about the student who really challenged her, the one she really worried about, who later came back to her and thanked her for turning her life around. She now works full time and is going to college. 

Most of these students are in challenging home environments. They are hungry, have absent parents, or parents who are incarcerated themsselves. Food For THought now delivers backpacks for those students on Fridays to feed them healthy meals through the weekend. Attendance has been perfect on Fridays since then. ANother one of the Destin Charity WIne Auction Foundation beneficiary charities that works with AMIkids is the Emerald Coast CHildren's Advocacy Center, assisting AMIkids to find educational tutors for their students. 


Posted on Thursday, November 19, 2015

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