In 1969, Judge Frank Orlando, the chief juvenile court judge in Fort Lauderdale, was frustrated about the same young people being arrested without any sign of effective rehabilitation. Determined to make a difference, Judge Orlando formed a partnership to send troubled kids to a special school rather than to be locked away in juvenile detention facilities.
Fifty years later, Judge Orlando’s vision has expanded into what is now known as AMIkids, a “non-profit organization dedicated to helping youth develop into responsible and productive citizens.” To date, AMIkids has given 125,000 boys and girls an alternative to incarceration.
“[AMIkids] gave me the supportive family structure I needed,” Youri A., an alumnus of AMIkids, said.
Youri was arrested for burglary at a young age and described himself as trapped. Following his arrest, Youri was sent to AMIkids, where he credits their employees with helping him get his life on track. Now he has a job and is working to attend college.
As a part of the program, kids live on an AMIkids’ campus and receive education and support to help them thrive. AMIkids also works with students struggling in school and provides family services and therapy.
Like Youri, Scott M., another beneficiary of the AMIkids program, said that through the program he learned to value his life and how to set goals. After his time at AMIkids, Scott wanted to help children with similar experiences. He ultimately became chief of social work at the University of Alabama’s Graduate School of Social Work.
“I am married and my beautiful wife and I have two wonderful children,” Scott said while reflecting on his time at AMIkids. “I owe much of my success to AMIkids for helping me develop a vision and purpose for my life. AMIkids helped me build the foundation of a successful future and provided me the tools to push myself forward. I will be forever grateful to AMIkids.”
AMIkids relies on community support and donations. Among its supporters is Coke Florida, which provided new laptops to AMIkids Volusia in Daytona Beach, Fla., to help equip students with the tools they need to continue their education.
Working to “separate a troubled past from a bright future,” AMIkids has invested in children for more than 50 years to help them get on the right path towards their dreams. “We are so grateful for your support of our kids,” AMIKids said of Coke Florida’s laptop donation.
Read more success stories from AMIkids alumni here.