Step Ahead Program Provides Community Enrichment

Florida National University has a strong bond with the local community. Engaging in community partnership provides students, faculty, and staff with “a lasting, positive impact on society-at-large” (FNU Blog, 2013) and brings back respect, positive reputation, and social impact on the surrounding neighborhood. Every year, when the school is off and summer breaks start; the City of Hialeah provides a direct service to young individuals with Intellectual Developmental Disability (IDD). The “Step Ahead Program” designed to enrich youth. Education and Community Services at Special Population Center, locally at City of Hialeah, govern the program.

There is a long relationship between special teenagers and the FNU Library staff. Last year, the Summer Internship program sponsored by Miami-Dade County Public Schools and The Children’s Trust was a success. Our first planning meeting with Mr. Kevin Devine brought smiles and good memories to the experienced FNU Librarians Maria Elena de la Cruz and Anolan Alonso. Michelle Palacios shared with meeting members saved picture IDs from Summer 2017, and everybody remembered the young people and their coordinator Jenny Sanso. Genesis and Izaylin are joining the team for the second summer. Omar, Kendryck, Roy, Nicolas and Alicia are new to the group and keenly wait to introduce themselves.

The 2018 Summer Internship with youth awaiting project-oriented tasks to develop job training activities, educational life-long skills, and social interaction communication skills. It is important that these teenagers that they are not pushed around, are accepted, and treated with equity and respect.

The FNU Library is a perfect place for the carefully selected activities and projects, because of the nature of the provided work of professionally trained Library staff is to help the diverse community of students and faculty. The American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights recognizes that a person with IDD could be neglected and bulled, and even culturally isolated because of their various personal challenges.

We say: “Welcome White Tigers!” “Libraries Help, Black Panthers!” This is a hands-on program and participants will organize, weed and delete obsolete books, stamp new books, provide supplies inventory and learn digital skills.

Ida Tomshinsky, MLS

FNU Library Director

305-821-3333, ext. 1161