Special to South Florida Times

The Miami-Dade Community Action Agency’s Self Help Division hosted the ninth annual awards ceremony to honor the 2010 Family and Child Empowerment Program (Project FACE) participants.

The event took place at the Liberty City Community Enrichment Center, 6100 NW Seventh Ave.

The theme was “Leaving behind our past, striving forward towards a successful future.”

A CAA announcement said the theme was intended to reflect the sentiment of the participants of Project FACE: a tribute to their new beginnings. 

Project FACE is an afterschool intervention and advocacy program serving children aged 8 to18 who have been diverted from the Juvenile Assessment Center.

The participants passed through a 12-week program of activities designed to complement their academic and behavioral performance in the Miami-Dade County public school system.

The activities include individual and group counseling, homework assistance, tutorial or remedial assistance, conflict resolution skills and dealing with peer pressure. 

The program also exposed the youths to social, recreational, and cultural events.

The overall goal of the program is to provide youths with the skills necessary to prevent them from re-entering the juvenile justice system.

At the completion of the program, the 46 participants were each awarded a certificate of completion, as well as a Project FACE school back pack, a cap, a t-shirt, a jump drive, highlighter, a calculator, a dictionary and a thesaurus.

During the graduation exercises, they performed spoken word poetry and songs and others gave testimonials on how the program has helped motivate them to better themselves.

The guest speaker the Rev. Frank Dean, assistant pastor at New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, called on the graduates to keep moving forward and to learn from past mistakes.

Some of the graduates received special awards: Most Improved, Kevin Charles; Most Improved in Academics, Vontrell Scott; Citizenship, Antwan Jones; Leadership, Eddie Birkins; and Most Improved Behavior, Laraque Vilsaint.

Chelsa Brown was named the outstanding parent of the year and Pamela Curry was honored as volunteer of the year; each received a plaque.

Program officials gave special acknowledgment to The Jay Weiss Program, an affiliate of the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Program, for facilitating bi-weekly workshops.

For preventive health care, representatives of the Star Medical Clinic and Tech Pharmaceuticals were on site to provide free diabetic and blood pressure screenings to parents. Those identified with above normal glucose levels will be provided a free glucose meter.