Thanksgiving of 2009 was the first time I met Shanta and the wonderful children of New Image Youth Center. I had been asked by a friend to help prepare a Thanksgiving meal for NIYC. My friend had only told me that this was an inner city youth center that was located in Parramore- the most crime ridden part of Orlando. i was completely blown away by a group of 50 children who were the most polite, well-mannered, happy group of children I had been around in a long time. From that moment on, I wanted to know more about the center and especially about the wonderful young lady who was mentoring these young people. Shanta, the founder and director, is very intentional in her approach with the children. She has not only created a safe haven for children to come to, but for a lot of these children she has created a family unit, something they don't have any place else. She is constantly exposing her students to every available opportunity to help them grow and learn and that will give them relevant life skills. Whether its public speaking, going on campouts, shooting baskets with the Magic basketball players,practicing yoga, learning how to use an iPad, hosting a community party, planting and caring for a garden, writing a book and much more, Shanta challenges her kids to be the best that they can be at everything they do, Shanta is literally changing a community one child at a time. Being a part of New Image Youth Center has changed my life and I feel so blessed to be a part of the Board of New Image Youth Center.
I was introduced to NIYC in December 2006 where 26 youth came everyday after school to get off the streets. Here they are taught that they do not have to be a product of their environment and that there are others who are much less fortunate than they are. They live and see the homeless, drug addicts and violence of their neighborhood, yet through all this turmoil these children strive in school, have smiles on their faces as they learn that education and giving back to their community are the best way to beat these circumstances. Through Ms Barton-Stubbs they have learned to forgive those that hurt them and move on. The Center has grown from 26 to 60 children on the roll in the last 6 years. There are currently no teenage pregnancies and no children using drugs at this organization. Eight have graduated from high school, 4 in college and 4 holding down fulltime jobs. We believe all of our kids have the potential to graduate from high school and either go to college, or trade school as they have been taught the value of work and earning a living. We believe through positive learning, and positive feedback these children can achieve anything and be productive community leaders. I have had the great pleasure of having these children as part of my life and watching their personal growth has been a blessing to me. They remind me daily that anything can be accomplished some effort and belief in yourself.
Review from Guidestar