Florida Senator Oscar Braynon speaks to some of the students attending his 5th Annual Choice Challenge held May 20.


Staff Report

MIAMI – Last Saturday, 500 middle school students between the ages of 13 and 17 from Miami-Dade County Public Schools attended the “5th Annual Choice Challenge” hosted by Senate Democratic Minority Leader Oscar Braynon II, in partnership with The Santana Moss Foundation.

The teen only workshop took place at the FIU Koven Conference Center from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Choice Challenge is an annual free spring event for youth only, which aims to equip middle and high school students with the knowledge and tools to make conscious good decisions about their future.

This year, South Florida’s teens engaged in an exciting day filled with music by WEDR’s ‘She-J’ Hercules, complimentary breakfast and lunch, educational workshops led by panels of South Florida entrepreneurs, community and entertainment influencers, public officials, pastors, radio personalities and more.

Each workshop focused on required topics like careers, life choices, character development, consequences of drugs, gangs and gun violence, and opportunities that are available for them to have a successful future.

As the event commenced, students were challenged to create vision boards encouraging them to dream big as well as teach them about visualization and goal setting.

“Each year the Choice Challenge continues to grow, which in return allows us to encourage more of our youth to stay on the right path and make the best choices in life,” Braynon said. “One of my favorite parts about the event is the ‘Dream Big Boards’ workshop where the teens create personal vision boards that includes what they dream for their future. I believe if you can see it, you can achieve it.”

The 2017 speakers included: Chef Teach, Owner of World Famous Mac & Cheese; Pastor Richelle Williams, Jesus Peoples Ministries Church International; Stichez, 103.5 The Beat/iHeart radio personality; K. Foxx, 103.5 The Beat/iHeart radio personality; She-J Hercules, DJ for WEDR 99 Jamz/Cox Media Studios; Adrianna Smith, Former Dolphin & Heat dancer; Arthur “Marty” McNeil, Public Defender’s Office; Walter Byers, City of Miami Police; Rolando Perez, City of Miami Police; Sophia Montenegro, Public Defenders Office; and Sal A. Richardson, Managing Partner for The Law Office Offices of ATB.

The schools in attendance included: Norland Middle, Highland Oaks Middle, John F. Kennedy Middle, North Miami Middle, North-Dade Middle, Thomas Jefferson Middle, Edison Park K-8 Center, Brownsville Middle, Madison Middle and Westview Middle.