ORLANDO, Fla. – More than 40 students from the Parramore Kidz Zone graduated from the program this past Friday and right before they cross the stage for high school some are now reflecting on their journey.
“It feels like a chapter that you just been waiting to close and it’s here and you’re like finally,” Iana Hair said.
Hair sat down with News 6 alongside three other college-bound graduating seniors who say when they walk across the stage the significance is so important for their families.
“It feels good to graduate because I’m the first of my generation to graduate,” TJ Fink said.
Another student told News 6 what getting to this point meant to her.
“For me, I have mixed emotions, but I am mostly very excited that I will finally be going into my career, it’s kind of bittersweet,” Evenyka Louisa said.
The Parramore Kidz Zone started in 2006 to help young people get involved and graduate high school.
The city expanding the program has reduced juvenile crime and teen pregnancy rates and has been so successful it’s now expanding to neighborhoods like Holden Heights, Mercy Drive, and Englewood.
Brenda March is Orlando’s Child and Education Manager.
“We believed if we do whatever it takes our children will be safe, our children will be healthy, our children will be happy and our children will be whole knowing that they have a safe haven.”
Graduates say this program changed their lives and encourage others to get involved.
“If I wasn’t as interested in school they helped me in the places I lacked grades, like a support system that kept me going,” Syrus Pinnock said.
Hair agreed with Pinnock.
“PKZ was always in the back of my ear and was telling me like you have a purpose it’s like a reason for you to finish school.”
Fink encouraged other students to join the PKZ program.
“Take advantage of everything that they give you because you never know what can come behind it.”
The Orlando Kidz Zones will continue to stay true to their mission and that’s getting more young people to college.
The program hopes to continue to grow and reach more kids in the future.