DREAMS Center now open in Tallahassee: Fighting crime by opening minds

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 12, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Tallahassee Pastor Rudy Ferguson says the Griffin Heights and Frenchtown areas have been plagued with violence and poverty issues for decades.

He knew he had to come up with a way to keep youth safe.

Opening the DREAMS Center was his own dream, hoping to ultimately help kids to follow theirs. It's a place where children and teens can go to learn and stay safe.

DREAMS stands for Determined to Reach Excellence and Motivated to Succeed.

Eleven-year-old Kirsten Ray said, "I feel good about it because it gives me an opportunity to come together with others and realizing that we are the future. We all have dreams."

The DREAMS Center is a part of the Frontline Project, Inc., a non-profit led by Pastor Ferguson to address issues, particularly in the Griffin Heights/Frenchtown areas.

"A lot of people weren't graduating from high school, a lot of dropouts, teenage pregnancy. Drugs was heavy on Alabama Street and in the community. We saw a lot of young people who had to walk through that environment." Ferguson said.

Now, they have a new environment.

12-year-old Cornelius Henderson said, "It's going to help kids reach their goals and things they want to do instead of just having them out on the streets and doing bad things and stuff."

Kathy Bradley's granddaughter participates in the programs. She said, "We have to participate and help out to make it a better place."

Kids attend the DREAMS center four days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There's a math lab with teachers on board, as well as other educational and recreational activities throughout the day.

The new center is located at 1215 West Tharpe Street in Tallahassee.

Pastor Ferguson said, "There's something that's brewing called hope inside of you. The only thing we need to do is present an opportunity for that to come out."

The Frontline Project has a GED program, arts, mentoring, and more. The organization is seeking 50 people to sponsor 50 young Dreamers with a $50 donation for the I AM DREAMS Campaign. To help, click here.

Frontline Project, INC.

The Frontline Project is a 501c3 nonprofit community action agency providing mentoring pro-grams for middle and high school youth in the Greater Frenchtown community of Tallahassee. The agency has formed partnerships with the local school district and the juvenile court system to foster a commitment to young people that will promote pro-social friendships, strong interpersonal skills, and reassert a sense of hope in the future. We believe that only through personal relationships can a sense of individual responsibility be reestablished that will give youth the commitment to follow through on path to adulthood with a sense of pride and accomplishment. In an effort to save our youth from the horrors of leading a criminal life that could lead to prison and even death, the Frontline Project, Inc., created the DREAMS (Determined to Reach Excel-lence And Motivated to Succeed) Center to host a variety of urgent youth services such as anger management 101, gang resistance education, restorative justice, anti-theft sessions and mentoring through the EDGE (Educate, Develop, Guide and Empower) program.

In the Frenchtown Community/Griffin Heights neighborhood, there are approximately 500 homes surrounded by three large subsidized housing projects with 1,500 residents and several abandoned homes used as havens for drug dealers, addicts and homeless people. The area has two secondary schools, one sports recreational center and pool, but is underserved because of the limited educational and mentoring accessibilities in the community. Per the Neighborhood Scout's research, our neighborhood has an income lower than 95.2% of U.S. neighborhoods. 44.8% of the Griffin Heights neighborhood children are living be-low the federal poverty line, which is higher than 87.0% of U.S. neighborhoods. The Tallahassee Police De-partment’s Uniform Crime Report has classified Griffin Heights as the worst neighborhood to live and raise a family as it pertains to gun violence fused by growing gang activity.

Forbes.com reports that Tallahassee leads the state in crime with 775 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. In the effort to assess the problems and needs of the community, the DREAMS Campaign, was provided with vast amounts of data detailing hot spots, firearm incident locations, suspect/victim overlay using additional information from Tallahassee Police Department’s Uniform Crime Reporting for the period of 2011-2015. Additionally, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Office of Research and Data Integri-ty reported that of the 940 youth offenders arrested in Tallahassee, a staggering 517 youth were arrested in the Griffin Heights neighborhood on charges ranging from grand theft auto, burglary of an occupied dwell-ing, aggravated assault and battery to possession of weapons/firearms.

E.D.G.E. (Educate, Develop, Guide & Empower) Youth Gang Resistance Education Overview: Provide an educational program designed to offer gang resistance techniques to students begin-ning at the elementary school level. Services will be geared toward improving participants’ self-esteem, self-confidence, ability to handle peer pressure when dealing with incidents of being influenced by gang members or bullies using a standardize curriculum. Each workshop will serve between 10 to 15 youth. The manual used is a supplementary resource and evidence-based gang intervention and prevention curriculum. The mate-rial was written to promote change using a cognitive restructuring (cognitive-behavioral therapy or “CBT”) approach.

Youth Anger Management 101 Overview: To conduct Anger Management training workshops consisting of exercises and techniques that promoted self-control, alternate ways to deal with anger, what is anger, types of anger, strategies for manag-ing anger and the consequences of anger utilizing a standardize curriculum. The manual used is a supplemen-tary resource and evidence-based curriculum that incorporates the growth in our understanding of how to ef-fectively help children and adolescents deal with the most common issues they face.

The D.R.E.A.M.S. Campaign Overview: The Frontline Project is a strong proponent of youth building on their dreams of success. Helping teens become aware of their dreams and teaching them how to reach for goals is a critical skill parents and teachers need to encourage. Our hopes and dreams shape our lives, the choices we make, and the success we achieve. Everyone has different dreams – and a different definition of success. But everyone needs a dream. Dreams and goals give life purpose, direction and meaning.

They help young people build toward the future, and offer a sense of control and hope through the following programs: A.R.T.S. (Advancing Raw Talents & Skills) Mentoring Program, which incorporates professional lessons in sessions ranging from music and the recording industry, photography, dance, poetry, paint-ing, radio and television broadcasting. Big Dreams & High Heels, Inc., is a mentoring program for girls and young adult females (8 to 13 years of age) with the necessary social services support and education that will empower, encourage and enable them personally, professionally in the pursuit of their dreams one step at a time.

The Frenchtown/Griffin Heights GED Classes is offered to committed adults at no cost, but with the assistance of donations, we are able to underwrite the cost of the official GED examination and study books. Class is held Monday through Friday from 9a to 12p. Poole’s Palace Math Lab uses curriculum designed to be the heart of learning. Having effective curricula provides essential benefits, such as providing an educational course that will navigate stu-dents toward effective performance and achievement.

The curriculum covers both mathematical and reading components. The reading and math curricula focuses on the many rigorous battles students face daily in the classroom. For math, students will understand and master skills related to basic facts (all components), mathematical and relational experiences, word problems, fractions, time and money. “She’s A Rose”

Mentoring Program presented by Macon Matters, Inc. The goal is to teach the es-sentials for teen girls how to get along positively with others and show respect when interacting. A solid foundation in good manners and proper etiquette is key when it comes to developing strong so-cial skills. As a young lady, Roses will understand the importance of appropriate behavior as it can directly contribute to her success in young adulthood and beyond.

The “I AM DREAMS” Campaign will produce and promote public service messages in the public interest with the objective of raising awareness against gun and gang violence by focusing on becom-ing positive productive responsible citizens now. The selected youth will become the faces and voices of this initiative for one year.

Rudolph Ferguson, Sr.| Executive Director/CEO 1215 West Tharpe Street | Tallahassee, Florida 32303 Phone: 850.290.3752 | Email: rudolph@flipinc.org Web: www.flipinc.org



 
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