Despite His Autism, Tampa Athlete Exceeds In Cycling During Special Olympics

Mark Zac, a Tampa native who was diagnosed with autism, has participated in special Olympic sports over the past few years ranging from a local level to the world level in the World Special Olympic Games.

Allen Zac, Mark’s father, trained with him for six months before the World Special Olympic Games. They lifted weights and cycled almost 10 miles a day to prepare Mark for the event.

“That year he went to San Diego on his own, on the plane with the team, did training for five days, and then went to Athens and was with the team for three weeks on his own. We never thought he could survive without us, somehow he did and he did awesome,” Allen Zak said. “He won a gold and a silver in cycling.”

Mark took home a gold and a silver medal and proudly wears them to this day. Although he plays many sports, cycling has always been his favorite choice.

Out of the wide range of awards he’s won, his gold medal is his favorite.

Mark Zac has proven to many people in his community and around the world that even with a disability, you can live out your dreams.

Taste of Spain captivates Tampa

TAMPA – On N. Tampa St., Toma Spain offers savory Mediterranean dishes and is host to live Flamenco shows, a culture which Fred Castro and his family helped bring to the community 37 years ago.

“We are one of the older Spanish restaurants here in Downtown Tampa,” Castro said. “We like to push the independence because if you spend your money in an independent restaurant, it stays within the community.”

Among the members of Flamenco shows are dancer and choreographer Carolina Esparza, who has known the Castro family for many years.

“They have similar experiences where they’ve always traveled to Spain because of their family,” Esparza said. “The food here is amazing, the entertainment that they get is amazing and yet it’s still a night out so to speak.”

The motivation for the workers of Toma Spain is simple: provide an atmosphere reminiscent of southern traditional Spanish culture.

The Flamenco show on March 25th was met with a grandiose round of applause due in large part to the performance of Flamenco guitarist Javier Hinojosa.

“Our musician [Hinojosa] is in my opinion one of the best Flamenco guitarists around,” Castro said. “We kind of traveled Spain ourselves and seen a lot of Flamenco shows and he compares with the best.”

The customers left the restaurant following the show with smiles and cheerful conversation amongst one another.

 

Clearwater Celebrates Its Sugar Sand “FantaSea”

Clearwater’s Sugar Sand Festival is celebrating its fifth annual exhibition.

This year the festival included new entertainment, several nights of fireworks, concerts, and movies, as well as private DJs and the Shepherds VIP Lounge Experience.

If you are a sand fan you can enjoy the Master Sand Sculpting Competition which takes place inside the 21,000 square foot tent. Seven master sculptors will create their own artistic piece in addition to the main sculptures. Barbara Sanchez is a local visitor that has been to the Sand Festival for the last 5 years.

“I love to just come and enjoy with my family,” Sanchez said. “It is a very unique experience for the family and especially for the kids. My grandchildren get so excited with all the games they have.”

Each year the festival has a new theme. This year is the Sugar Sand FantaSea, a Magical Adventure Above and Below the Sea. As the name describes, you can find  all types of sea-themed characters, like Spongebob Squarepants, mermaids, polar bears and pirates.

Lisa Chandler, the event coordinator, said they expected 38,000 people to see the show.

“We want people to come and enjoy. We have live music, food and games,” she said. “Sugar Sand is what makes Clearwater different. It’s not only the beautiful sunsets and the warm water, but it’s people and the events we try to organize that keep people coming back.”

The tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for kids 6 and older, and $8 for seniors, military, law enforcement, firefighters and teachers. For more information visit http://sugarsandfestival.com/.

Feeding Tampa Bay, Home to Those Who Want to Help

Volunteers from all throughout Tampa Bay come out to give back to their community at Feeding America Tampa Bay every week Monday through Saturday.

Volunteers from throughout Tampa Bay come out to give back to their community at Feeding Tampa Bay every week Monday through Saturday.

Feeding Tampa Bay works with smaller organizations such as Metropolitan Ministries and Trinity Café to help distribute food to those in need.

The organization makes it easy for anyone who is willing to help out in the bay area to join.

University of Tampa freshmen, Peter Peirce and Kaelin Willette both volunteer at Feeding Tampa Bay. They learned about the organization through their school and have been coming voluntarily ever since.

“Every time that I’ve come since has been voluntarily just because the first time I did it I enjoyed it so much that I figured I’d keep coming back and it’s always been good to me,” Peirce said.

Feeding Tampa Bay is an enjoyable volunteering environment for all who come.

“I love the energy here, I think everyone that comes here has such a positive energy and vibe and they make it a lot of fun,” Willette remarked.

Megan Carlson the organization’s community engagement manager  has been working for Feeding Tampa Bay for two years now and enjoys her working environment immensely.

“There’s something for everybody and we kind of satisfy every desire that people might have to give back to the community which is really cool,” Carlson said.

To learn more about this organization, visit feedingtampabay.org

 

 

New multicultural health clinic breaks language barrier for patients

Tampa has opened its first multicultural health care clinic, which aims to help the Hispanic community get health care in their own language.

CliniSanitas Medical Center originated in Colombia and currently has locations in several countries around the world. The medical center is focused on giving quality and personalized care to every patient.

The Tampa clinic, located at 3617 W. Hillsborough Ave. between N. Dale Mabry Highway and N. Himes Avenue, opened in December of 2016 and has had over 3,000 patients in less than three months since its inauguration.

The Medical Center Manager, Delilah Rosa-Gonzalez, says that the city’s Hispanic community has welcomed them.

“The community is loving it,” Rosa-Gonzalez said. “Patients that come here say ‘Spanish speaking doctors, please schedule me.’ We also have a fluent english speaking RA, and we have staff here that translate for her whenever she needs it. We help everybody, and people like that.”

CliniSanitas offers a variety of services such as primary care, specialty care, lab and diagnostics. The Clinic also has its own urgent care.

The RA in charge of the health program, Andrea Nunez Fisco, has been creating programs that will teach people healthy eating habits, exercise routines and the dangers of diabetes. She said the most important part of their work is education and prevention.

“We get the patients right here, we have the opportunity to educate them, to teach them everything and have that preventing part,” Fisco said. “That is extremely needed.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local Dog Trainers Give Back to Veterans

K-9 Partners for Patriots is not the typical dog training class—veterans are pairing up with pets to help them enter back into civilian life.

Mary Peter, who has over 30 years of experience as a master dog trainer, founded the program a few years ago to help veterans struggling with PTSD and other brain related injuries.

“People would come for obedience training and I started noticing more and more veterans coming back from combat with a dog trying to get into an obedience class,” said Peter.

Before taking the class, veteran Aurthur Moore found it difficult to complete day-to-day activities.

“I would lay in bed all day, said Moore. “I would stay in the house.”

Having gone through the training program, Moore is inspired to help others by studying to become a dog trainer for veterans.

“I want to help other veterans like they’ve helped me,” said Moore. “It makes me feel good helping other people, it helps me feel good inside.”

166 veterans are in or have gone through the program. Similarly, 55 dogs have been rescued and found a new home.

“90 percent of our funding goes directly to our veterans,” Peter said. “We try to save two—a dog and veteran together.”

For Peter, helping veterans is a gift she feels honored to be a part of.

“To see and honor those who have suffered so much in service to our country—it means everything to me,” said Peter. It’s not a job to me, it’s my passion. I love each and every one of these men and women and it’s an honor to serve them and help them.”

Clearwater Beach Spring Break Parking

Spring break is coming up and Clearwater Beach is offering something that will make visiting the beach less of a hassle.

The beach opened Pelican Walk Parking Garage on Poinsettia Avenue at the end of January. The goal was to help with parking problems that occur on the beach.

Jason Beisel, the Public Communications Coordinator of Clearwater expects the garage to improve the flow of traffic.

“Especially this time of year with spring break… we have an influx of visitors,” said Beisel. “But what we built it for is so people have a place to park.”

The location used to be a single level parking lot, but the new garage offers 702 spaces. It also helps beach employees who had trouble finding parking for a reasonable price. Parking in the garage costs $2 an hour or $20 a day.

“Some lots around here, you can pay up to $50 a day to park,” Beisel said. “So, we have contracted with some businesses where they pay a flat fee and they’re able to park here and it helps alleviate some of the parking problems for employees.”

The garage cost over $11 million to build. Most of the money came from parking fees collected on the beach and tourism dollars. A smaller portion came from taxpayer dollars.

“It just helps the whole beach and the economy to bring people out here so they can enjoy themselves and spend money at all the different shops,” Clearwater resident Tim Lavelle said. “It’s just good for everybody.”

 

Veteran Art Exhibit on Display at Tampa’s Riverwalk

 

Saori Murphy and Larry Busby had their work chosen for display outside the Straz Center as part of the Veterans Art Exhibit: Reintegration and Resilience.

“Being around the Straz and having people see that – there is a little bit of vulnerability that you kind of feel vulnerable that people see parts of yourselves,” said Murphy. “But at the same time I’m feeling really honored and respected in a way that people had come up and approached me along with other veterans.” 

Murphy’s favorite piece of artwork currently on display is called A Choice. It began as a black and white exhibit that, over time, was filled with beautiful colors which represented her emotional transformation.

“What was my inspiration for making art? Suicide. I am a suicide survivor,” said Busby. “I started getting the help I need because I was suffering from severe depression and alcoholism. That started my journey.”

After seeking help for his depression, it was suggested that Busby choose a hobby. So, he picked up his camera 30 years after being a former Navy photographer’s aid.

“I’m in a zen-like state,” said. Busby. “I’m focused on what I’m doing and the rest of the world just disappears. It just melts away and I kind of like that. It’s meditation. It’s therapy. It’s cool.”

Both Busby and Murphy see the importance in seeking help and want others to do the same. Their artwork is on display for free at the Riverwalk in Downtown Tampa until March 15th.

 

Local Café Offers Food For Some, Hope For Others

 

Inside the Box Café and Catering is a social enterprise of the Metropolitan Ministries, providing both vocational training and opportunities for work experience to the less fortunate.

Chef Cliff Barsi founded the culinary school program to help individuals transitioning out of homelessness and poverty learn their trade. The kitchen at Metropolitan Ministries is their classroom, and Inside the Box Café is their training ground.

“The reason we started Inside the Box Café is because I wanted a real life restaurant for them to work in,” Barsi said. “They go out to the cafés, they work on the line with the cooks there so they get that skill of urgency-something that you just don’t learn in a normal culinary school. Then, they go back to the kitchen and they do some practical cooking classes with our chef.”

The 16-week program is funded by JP Morgan Chase Bank. All students that are accepted into the program receive a full scholarship.

Eliu DeLeon is one of those students, preparing to graduate. DeLeon hopes to become a chef at a fine dining restaurant upon leaving Inside the Box.

“A lot of my peers that have already graduated have ended up in a lot of fine dining companies,” DeLeon said.

Chely Figueroa is the catering coordinator at Inside the Box. Before that, though, she had become homeless in 2009.

“I found myself walking 18 miles to this place here, Metropolitan Ministries, to find a safe haven,” Figueroa said.

Barsi called her one day, asking her to run the downtown storefront.

All proceeds from Inside the Box Café and Catering go directly back to Metropolitan Ministries to help others in need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tampa Pride Remembers Pulse Shooting

Ybor City welcomed thousands to the Tampa Pride Parade on Saturday to celebrate the LGBTQ community and pay tribute to victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Centro Ybor was packed with events on the strip of Seventh Avenue, including a parade and street festival, all of which were open to the public.

Tampa Pride featured a special ceremony to remember the lives of victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting last June. This was the first Pride event since the shooting occurred.

“Since the shooting, things have been very different,” said Alisha, a Tampa Pride attendee. “It is nice to see everyone come together to support the cause and still see there are people in the community that support what we are doing here.”

Many local and national celebrities came out to support the festival, including Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and Scotty Davis, a radio host from 93.3 FL-Z.

Rue, a gay rights activist, spoke about the changes he’s noticed in the over 25 years he’s been attending Pride parades.

“It was mainly a march saying this is who we are and we’re proud to do it,” Rue said. “We didn’t have any elected officials behind us, you know, sponsors to say, so it’s a really different atmosphere.”

The crowd gathered to pay homage to the victims of the shooting in Orlando, while also celebrating the differences that brought them together for such a unique occasion.

A Young Florida High Girls Basketball Team Heads to Lakeland

A Young Florida High Girls Basketball Team Heads to Lakeland 

After defeating their opponent during overtime to win the regional final, Tallahassee’s Florida High is ready for the state finals in Lakeland.

Last year, the Florida High Lady Noles had an unsuccessful season. They lost in the first round of the district championships. According to head coach Darryl Marshall, this year has been different.

“The season has been great. The girls came out mentally focused, ready for the season and ready for this run that we are on now since day one,” Marshall said.

The Lady Noles are now on the verge of making history as the youngest ever to win a 5A State Championship. Two of three team leaders are in eighth and ninth grade. Freshman Kendall Thomas and eighth grader Jordan Rosier have led this team to the state semi-finals.

“I’m the point guard, I am the leader of this team,” Thomas said. “I just go out and play my own game.”

“I had a lot more responsibility this year, I had to put on a big pair of shoes this year and step up,” Rosier said.

These young players must carry triumphant athleticism in their blood because 10 years ago it was their older sisters, Chelsea Rosier and Autumn Thomas that led the Lady Noles to win the state championship.

“Growing up it was always me and her and now it’s so funny to see Jordan and Kendall,” Chelsea Rosier said. “It’s like déjà vu.”

This young duo is only a small part of this dynamic team. The Lady Noles will play Fort Lauderdale’s Cardinal Gibbons on Wednesday, Feb. 22, as they strive to win the state championship and continue to make history.

Brooksville Group Coming Together to Help Homeless

People from all over Hernando County came together in a room at The Grande, an assisted living community in Brooksville, to help the homeless.

Dianna Seijas, a resident of Brooksville, is the project coordinator for Mats for a Mission, a volunteer group that makes mats for the homeless out of recycled plastic bags.

“Unfortunately it can happen to anyone, it doesn’t take a lot to change your life overnight,” Seijas said. “We do have a lot of people sleeping in the woods.”

Since starting in January, Mats for a Mission is getting a lot of attention. Volunteers ranging from teenagers to the elderly make up the over 200 members involved in the project.

Carly Nichols, who teaches at Fox Chapel Middle School, can see the benefit of getting her students to become a part of a mission like this.

“I teach sixth to eighth grade and they’re at a time where they are very impressionable, so it’s really important that we build a strong character base for them,” Nichols said.

It takes many hands and about 700 plastic bags to make one mat. From flattening bags, to tying yarn together, it takes a community to be successful.

“Come, volunteer, we have a lot of fun,” Seijas said. “Take it back to your community, we’d be happy to teach you.”

The goal of the group is to have 500 mats made by the end of the year.

“We realize that’s a lofty goal,” Seijas said. “But we have all the confidence in the world in this group and our volunteers that we will meet this goal.”

Mats for a Mission meets Saturday each week from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at The Grande.

 

 

Franchise a way to help center

By Ciara Cummings

TAMPA—This Dairy Queen franchise located on State Road 64 in Brandon works as a charity to financially support the Lakeview Center, a behavioral health and child protective services agency.

“We were on the way home from the golf course when we passed by,” said DQ customer Rita. “It looked like a really nice facility so we decided to stop here for dinner.

Like many customers, she had no clue that this franchise was purchased by Lakeview Associated Enterprises in order to keep their health center in Pensacola afloat.

The center that provides therapy, aid and treatments to abused children and adults who struggle with disabilities, needed some help of their own, more income revenue.

Instead of traditional methods of fundraising, they purchased an ice cream franchise. This Brandon location is just one of the three franchises the Lakeview Associated Enterprises owns. But in the future, they plan to own at least eight Dairy Queens.

All proceeds do in fact go to Lakeview Center, which makes DQ employees more motivated to come to work and perform their best.

Libby, a cashier, says “You come in, it’s not just like a normal job. It’s like you’re working for something and you’re helping out other people.”

Co-worker Hilary Borhas said seeing the customers reactions are even better. “I think the best part about it is when the customers read the plaque and they are motivated to keep coming back because they know their money isn’t just going to some big company.”

The employees receive their paycheck from Lakeview Associated Enterprises. If the store performs well during the quarter, the Enterprise has enough money to support their health center which allows them to take money from elsewhere, like state and federal funding, to support their employees.

 

Nielsen Visits USF, Seeking Passionate Students For Employment Opportunities

 

 

Nielsen is a widely known company, one that is constantly looking for new candidates to represent them. Nielsen studies consumer habits in more than 100 countries.

Jennifer Hurst is a manager with Nielsen, as well as a leader in the business-improving organization.

“Nielsen is a market research company,” said Hurst. “We are the science behind what’s next, so we measure what people watch and what people buy.”

Nielsen visits USF and surrounding communities every year, according to Hurst. The USF campus is one of the communities Nielsen enjoys visiting because of the type of candidates they receive.

The candidates chosen to work with Nielsen all have three key things in common: leadership skills, community service and passion.

Steve Filus, majoring in computer science at USF, cites the work environment at Nielsen as a major draw for him. Many potential candidates, like Filus, are excited to have the opportunity to get one-on-one time with a company of their dreams.

“So the work-life balance that they have there is the biggest piece for me,” said Filus. “They also are involved in the community. That’s one of the most important things for me for a place of work.”

The closest Nielsen in the Tampa Bay Area is in Oldsmar, Florida. However, the distance does not prevent the candidates and Nielsen from connecting.

Both parties know exactly what they want to gain from the other.

Nielsen is currently accepting applications on its website at www.nielsen.com/careers

CrossFit Aero Athletes Train for Reebok CrossFit Open

It’s 10 a.m. Monday; athletes from the Wesley Chapel and Tampa areas are using their mornings and bodies to the fullest potential at CrossFit Aero.

Wesley Chapel may still be growing, but it has been home to CrossFit Aero since January 2011.

CrossFit Aero, a privately owned and operated gym, offers challenges for people of all varieties. Whether you are new to CrossFit, or a certified trainer, CrossFit Aero has something for you.

Minnesota native, Jade Zeller, has been attending CrossFit Aero for the last four months since moving down south and shows no signs of stopping.

“I did a lot of research on google,” Zeller said. “I actually was talking to my sister who owns a CrossFit gym in Minnesota, and she was looking up all the coaches and their certifications and came across this one. I came in and did a free one day drop-in and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Many of these gymgoers are working toward their chance to compete in the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Open, which will begin on Feb. 23.

Jason Hamm, owner of CrossFit Aero, has incorporated a variety of workouts into the daily training that will also be included in the CrossFit Open.

Zeller said the daily practice helped everyone get more comfortable with these workouts.

CrossFit athletes like Jade, working toward their goals, become one step closer every day. But it is the progress along that way that makes it all worthwhile.

“I’m staying here for as long as I possibly can,” Zeller said. “This is my home gym. I’m happy here.”

For more information on CrossFit Aero and the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Open, please visit www.CrossFitAero.com and https://games.crossfit.com/.

Tampa Convention Center spices up menu options

The Tampa Convention Center will soon be partnering with a local restaurant to help further its menu choices.

Datz, a staple restaurant in the Tampa area, will soon be the new bistro for the Center. Datz has appeared on the show Food Paradise on the Travel Channel and is known for its creative food.

Doug Horn, the director of catering sales at Aramark for the Center, has worked with Aramark and the idea of bringing Datz into the 600,000-square-foot Center.

“Aramark has been trying to partner with local restaurants and local businesses to help develop, or further develop the local following for the Sail and the Convention Center,” Horn said.

The Center is located in the heart of downtown Tampa next to Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and many people stay in the nearby hotels, which increases the demand for food in the area.

The amount of people visiting the Sail Pavilion, Tampa’s only 360 degree waterfront bar, which is attached to the Center is overwhelming, leaving its single kitchen overwhelmed with the demand.

“Once these renovations are done we’ll have two different styled menus,” Horn said. “Also, if The Sail is busy, Bay Bistro kitchen is also very busy so we will be able to handle a greater volume of people for a lunch rush because we will have two separate kitchens.”

The Center has been serving the public for over 25 years. As the area expands with new buildings and restaurants, due to Jeff Vinik’s $3 billion development plan, the Center hopes to be able to draw in more business with the new partnership with Datz.

Tampa Gym Does Fitness Differently

 

Esther Solano and Tina Leon not only share a passion for health and fitness, they also share a friendship that stands the test of time.

Solano helped create Tampa’s very own Epic Boxing & Fitness, a full service boxing gym with a twist.

“We’ve been here for almost three years now,” Solano said. “It’s been great to watch us grow from when we first opened in 2014 until now.”

Located on West Kennedy Boulevard in the heart of Downtown Tampa, Epic Boxing & Fitness attracts all different kinds of clientele from around the Tampa area, like Solano’s regular, Tina Leon.

“I started coming to Epic around three years ago when they first opened up,” Leon said. “Esther and I have become great friends and workout buddies so I definitely love it here.”

The gym found its start with the help of co-owner Jaye Maddon, wife of Joe Maddon, the 2016 World Series Champion Manager of the Chicago Cubs.

“I was her boxing coach at the time and one day she came to me and told me she wanted to open her own boxing gym with a twist, and if I’d help her start on this adventure,” Solano said. “It’s been a blessing to work with her.”

Epic Boxing & Fitness will be celebrating its third anniversary next year.

“If you want to be challenged then come down and try out a session,” Solano said. “We welcome college students from UT as well as USF.”

For more information please visit www.epicboxingandfitness.com

The New Confederate

There’s an organization in Tampa that wants people to know the confederacy is still alive and well.

Sons of Confederate Veterans is hoping to change connotations that come along with the word “confederate.”

“That this flag is a symbol of bigotry, this flag is a symbol of white supremacy, this flag is a symbol of slavery,” said a guest speaker at the Confederate Flag Day event. “Anyone that knows history from 1816 to 1865 knows there isn’t a shred of evidence.”

The organization is national, but has one of their largest chapters is in Florida. The Florida chapter claims to deconstruct myths that are associated with confederate ideals by replacing them with positivity.

“I feel pride,” Florida Division Commander, Don Young, said. “I feel that love. Those soldiers whom I talked about who feel that love see it as a symbol of protection of their family. ”

Young said that he recognizes there are differences in opinions and varying perspectives that are mostly “not good,” but he also suggests people study history outside of the classroom, alleging school assignments are not always right.

Young represents the common sentiments shared at the Confederate Flag Day event. Attendees were in consensus that Southern ideals and values had been villainized over the years.

Members of Sons of Confederate Veterans are adamant about protecting their history and their rights—that’s all they are trying to do according to member Jack Coleman.

“I don’t think they fully understand the history,” Coleman said. “And I think maybe they feel a little bit threatened, but they don’t have to be.”

Members want their opposition, like the Black Lives Matter movement, to learn the confederacy’s modern platform. Once they do, members, like Coleman, believe there won’t be so much backlash.

Veteran Garden Opening

https://youtu.be/tgq3kTbPWhg

The Sustainable Living Project is getting veterans back into society through the construction of their Veteran Garden, set to open Feb. 16.

“We thought if we did something here that would welcome veterans, they may enjoy coming to see where their food is coming from and engaging in fellowship with other veterans here,” Will Carey, the project’s operations manager, said.

Located at 918 W Sligh Ave., The Sustainable Living Project works to grow food and to teach sustainable living techniques.

“I’ve done a couple of little grow boxes at my house and from what I see here, I can change a lot of things to make it a lot better,” Kenneth Jackson, a volunteer, said.

Carey, who’s worked 20 years in the field of hunger related issues, wanted to do something for veterans. All food is being donated to those in need.

“Everything else we’ve been doing here is going to folks that needed healthier alternatives injected into their diet,” Carey said. “We deal with a lot of homelessness, and veterans make up a good portion of that.”

Carey, who sees this as a stepping stone to other gardens, says these types of programs will only get bigger and become more accessible to everyone.

The Sustainable Living Project opened on Earth Day in 2013.

Riverfront Park asset to students

The University of South Florida Riverfront Park offers a unique experience to its students and alumni by providing outdoor recreational activities from canoeing to even a ropes course.

With the advantage Florida brings to its residents, USF is able to offer its students and alumni a place to de-stress and relax after a hard day at work or from studying. The park has a wide range of activities available. The ropes course is a common favorite among it students and is an activity many people have never done before.

“I take them up on the ropes course which is about 55 feet high and they go through obstacles and stuff and they eventually zip line down,” ropes course facilitator Hunter Mitchell said.

The park is also on the banks of the Hillsborough River, allowing the park to offer canoeing and kayaking to its visitors. Many times, canoeing and kayaking is very expensive to go out and experience. At Riverfront Park students can rent canoes and kayaks from $5 to $10 and a full usage pass for $45.

“At USF Riverfront Boat House, we provide students the opportunity to rent out kayaks, single-person kayaks, two-person kayaks and canoes,” boat house facilitator Esteban Baute said.

The park also offers team-building activities that help USF students build leadership skills and make new friends.

“It gets people talking in case they don’t know each other and we just really establish trust and communication and really get groups closer together after they come out here,” Mitchell said.

With over 49,000 students at USF, making friends can be tough. USF Riverfront Park allows students to make new friends easier and bring different people together by offering these activities.