Parramore is a historically impoverished neighborhood in the city of Orlando, Florida. Its roots date back to the 1880s when it was developed as a segregated African-American community. Today, the City of Orlando Families, Parks and Recreation Department is working to change the neighborhood’s course by ensuring its youth are equipped with the knowledge and resources required to become healthy, successful adults.
Through the Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ) initiative, the department provides services — afterschool programs, mentoring, college access assistance and access to healthcare, to name a few — to families and youth in the community. Some of the programming and other services offered through PKZ and its partners include:
- Childcare subsidies so children — from infants to preschoolers — can receive free care and education prior to beginning kindergarten
- Free tutoring, mentoring and access to technology, school supplies and meals for school-aged children year-round
- Specialized training, art and community service-oriented program opportunities for teens, as well as mentors and access to teen facilities
- Assistance with college applications and the costs of associated supplies and fees
- A youth employment program, with 2:1 earnings matching from donors to be applied toward post-secondary education expenses
- Healthy food options and opportunities, such as healthy meal distribution, cooking classes and community gardening
- Free athletic programs (including uniforms, equipment and transportation) and wilderness education
The PKZ initiative, which began in 2006, generated great results in its first 10 years. At that milestone, the department noted that thanks to PKZ, the community had seen a 56 percent decline in teen pregnancies and a 61 percent decline in juvenile arrests, while 86 percent of high school students maintained a GPA of 2.0 or above and 100 percent of high school students graduated on time. PKZ continues to serve families and youth in the Parramore neighborhood in hopes that current and future generations will receive the benefits of a happier, healthier community.
Lindsay Collins is the Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine.