New Image Youth Center in Parramore, the latest nonprofit to receive a boost from the DeVos family

ORLANDO – It’s a Friday in early December around 3:30 p.m. School is closed for the weekend, but for a few dozen children in Parramore, learning has not stopped.

They spend time at the New Image Youth Center (NIYC), which provides a safe place for them to learn, play and develop essential skills.

A lot happened over the next two hours. Outside on the sidewalk, an obstacle course was set up in which the students were divided into teams and competed in a relay race. The activity was great for their fitness. It also taught them the importance of teamwork.

Meanwhile, inside the establishment, some of the younger ones were baking treats for the holidays. A member of staff was at the head of the dining table to explain the recipe. Culinary arts programs improve fine motor skills, increase language development, and encourage family bonds.

Collaboration was a particularly critical theme of all activities. Research shows that collaborative learning improves knowledge retention, strengthens leadership and self-management skills, promotes active listening, and encourages positive social interaction.

The founder of NIYC is Dr Shanta ‘Barton-Stubbs, a mental health counselor and nonprofit director who seeks to empower young people in the community of Parramore. During the Orlando Magic game against the Atlanta Hawks at the Amway Center on Wednesday, she and her NIYC team will receive $ 90,000 from the DeVos family as part of their 30 Grants for 30 Years initiative.

“There’s a lot going on here at Parramore. Much good. But there are also a lot of difficult times, ”Barton-Stubbs said. “Listening to the Orlando Magic knowing that the DeVos Family Foundation decided to choose New Image Youth Center for this grant, the emotions, the feelings and it was there. It’s Christmas, so it looks like a Christmas miracle.

It was a game of Monopoly, believe it or not, that helped kick off the program.

In 2004, then only 21 years old and a sophomore at college, Barton-Stubbs noticed a group of rambunctious children on the streets. They were playing with a grocery cart which could have led to an accident. Instead of expressing her anger, she invited them to her father’s church, which was next door. She played Monopoly with them for the next two hours.

The next day her dad contacted her and told her the kids were back and wanted to play more games. She soon realized that it was more than a board game. It was a question of offering a refuge to the children. It got the ball rolling in what is one of Orlando’s most successful youth programs today.

“At first it was very simple, I was just trying to give the kids an after school experience where they weren’t alone,” she said. “I discovered very early on that it was important for them also to have a structure and to create a family-type unit. I didn’t have a lot of experience with kids, but the only thing I knew was how my parents raised me, so I thought that was very important for shows outside of their home. piece.

On a back wall of one of the NIYC spaces is a collection of portraits of former program students wearing their high school caps and gowns. For current members of the program, this collage serves as a source of inspiration. It’s a reminder that they too can make their dreams come true.

“We have been truly blessed because the new young people we serve are young people who are quite new in the last five or six years, they actually know the old ones because our old ones come back to give back,” Barton-Stubbs said. . “They are part of the process. Every year we get together for Thanksgiving. We are meeting for Christmas. When they’re in town, they stop to be a part of what we’re doing. Thus, our young people have the opportunity to see those who have already been served. Not only that, but we currently have young people that we have served and who are now serving children. They work here while they go to college, while they are starting their own businesses. So our children have the opportunity to learn from those who have also learned from us. It is a cycle that continues to grow more and more. But in such a positive way that our new young people always see firsthand what the program has done. ”

This is not the first time that the NIYC has received a boost from the Magic or DeVos family.

One such case arose in 2014 after thieves broke into the NIYC and stole around $ 6,000 from equipment, including computers, televisions and video games. The Magic and then team goalkeeper Victor Oladipo surprised the members of the youth center with all the new equipment they bought.

“These kids are now adults, but they’re still talking about it, and they say they felt really important because the Orlando Magic was able to come and meet such a great need for us,” Barton-Stubbs said.

A total of $ 3 million will be donated to 30 nonprofits in the region over the next 18 months as part of the DeVos Family’s 30 Grants for 30 Years initiative, which aims to invest in people and projects having an impact on young people, the basic needs of families and the enrichment of the community. across central Florida.

“We can’t imagine better partners than Magic fans and the Central Florida community,” said Magic President Dan DeVos. “We look forward to joining with nonprofits to do impactful work, provide financial support as well as an opportunity to spotlight the great things these nonprofits do every day. This is all to honor the great community in which we are grateful to be.

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