People of all ages get active at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Zumba classes are fun, active and free to everyone who stops by “Zumba in the Park” at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. Meagan Simmons has been leading the class every Tuesday night for two years and enjoys seeing old and new faces.

“The great thing about Zumba is that you’re not here for your neighbor, you’re not here for me, you’re here for yourself,” Simmons said.

The class starts promptly as 6:00 p.m. and is a full hour of exercise in a family-friendly environment.

Laurence Alo is a regular at the Zumba class. He’s been coming ever since the downtown YMCA started offering the class in 2014.

“Zumba is best when we have weather like we do today,” Alo said.

The class’s popularity has grown immensely. The number of dancers has increased from 20 people in the first year to an average of 50 to 60 people now. Men and women of all ages are seen in the crowd.

“It is a great way to meet different kinds of people,” Alo said.

“Zumba in the Park” is held every Tuesday at Curtis Hixon Park from 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Florida Focus Sept. 29th, 2016

In this episode: Uber will pay $250,000 for a temporary license as part of their new agreement with Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission; Gabrielle Giffords led an anti-gun violence rally in St. Pete today; HRI Properties won a bidding war for an empty lot in downtown Tampa and plans on starting construction next year; Pinellas County Department of Health celebrates World Heart Day; Pinellas County firefighters exercise a way to rescue people from collapsed buildings.

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Florida Focus News Brief Sep. 26, 2016

In this episode: an elderly woman is injured when a car crashes into her home; Governor Rick Scott issued a new emergency rule; care for transgender patients is being offered in southwest and central Florida; a pilot program is expanding streetcar services in Ybor and downtown Tampa; and red tide has been detected in bay area beaches.re

 

Florida Focus News Brief September 21, 2016

In this episode: Sewage problems spread across the Bay area following Hurricane Hermine; Clearwater Police participated in opioid overdose training; City officials released new details about a High-Speed Ferry service; The church of Scientology hosted a prayer party for International Day of Peace.

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How a nationwide nonprofit organization is helping Tampa

Proclaiming that they are the “first name in second chances,” Eckerd is a nationwide nonprofit organization that focuses on providing solutions that help struggling families and young adults thrive.

At the Eckerd Achievement Academy office in downtown Tampa, teachers Stephen Zambito and Tamara Johnson are just some of the staff that has been hired to teach some at-risk teens in the Tampa Bay community. Through this program their goal is to obtain their high school or GED diploma when traditional schooling options are no longer an option.

Johnson and Zambito create a safe place for these students who often come from broken homes and were children of the foster care system. Many of the students love it at Eckerd and consider it a family type atmosphere.

Every job comes with its ups and downs. Johnson said the hardest part of this particular job is getting attached to the students. “These kids are like my own and it’s really hard when one day they are here and the next day they are gone.” She also said that when they lack motivation it is hard to steer them in the right direction.

Zambito expressed the same sentiment saying, “Over the ten years I have done this I have definitely learned patience.”

Eckerd not only provides high school and GED diploma services, but also juvenile justice, child welfare, and behavioral health services for those in need. For more information about Eckerd please visit Eckerd.org or call 800-554-HELP.

 

 

 

 

Up-And-Coming Production Company Growing In Tampa

Diamond View Studios is a local production company devoted to creating excellent content. With a crew of 15 team members, creative juices are always flowing in their new state of the art studio located right off Bearss Avenue.

“Every single person who works there is truly passionate about video and about creating terrific content,” said operations manager Jonathan Hickson. “You come in and we’re having fun and it looks like we’re just playing around but really, we’re working really hard and we’re creating content that we’re proud of.”

Diamond View’s clientele is quite diverse, ranging from the University of South Florida to companies like Red Bull and Allstate.

“We’re constantly looking for new creative concepts — new hardware we can use, new software we can use. We’re always just striving to take it to one more level above what we already are right now,” said Shane Sackett, a recent intern turned associate producer.

Founded in 2007, the company outgrew office space after office space before setting their eyes on an available brick building. The open space and modern design of the studio are hard to miss, and Tampa Bay Business Journal recognized them as the 2016 Coolest Office Space.

“I didn’t think I’d like working anywhere as much as I do working at Diamond View,” Hickson said.

Production inquiries can be sent through their website, diamondviewstudios.com, or their telephone number, 800-613-9693.

Tampa Coach Leads Students to Success Through Basketball

For Rychard Williams, being a basketball coach at Rey Park is more than just teaching kids how to score. It gives him the opportunity to help many students and keep them on the right path.

Williams started a nonprofit organization,“We Got Talent,” where he helps his students gain access to higher education by utilizing their athletic and academic abilities

“I was trying to figure out how I could do different things for my kids, to show them different things. I had students that didn’t receive college offers when I thought they should have,” said Williams.

Coach Williams trains his students with scholarship opportunities in mind, but to teach life lessons as well.

“I think I’ve learned how to be a part of a team better and how to carry myself better,” said Charles Dunn, a Blake High School freshman. “Knowing I’m a part of that foundation, coach has just helped me make better decisions and be a better person.”

He meets with his students every day after school to give them a place to be productive. This gives them an opportunity to do their homework, play games and workout.

Williams plans to take some of the kids on a trip to Atlanta, Georgia over spring break to keep them occupied. He will also take them to an Atlanta Hawks basketball game, which most of the students are excited about.

For more information, contact coach Williams at WGTINC4LIFE@GMAIL.COM.

My Daughter’s Keeper Of Tampa Bay

Donna Welch has made it her mission to educate young girls about their worth and their choices.

“We have learned that girls can have so many challenges in their life,” Welch said. “So having a program where they can come—it’s a platform open to the young ladies to discuss all the issues that relate to them…we cover it all.”

Welch established My Daughter’s Keeper of Tampa Bay, Inc. (MDK) in 2007. The St. Petersburg mentoring program aims to encourage and empower young women ages 10 to 18. The girls meet weekly to discuss anything from school to relationships to aspirations. The program also organizes workshops for the girls on etiquette, personal development, and any other needs the girls may have.

“I think that a lot of what is being talked about now is self-esteem issues and being confident in who you are and in your own skin,” mentor NaKeena Cromartie said.

There are currently 25 to 30 girls enrolled in the program. When Welch is not working with them, she is touring the Bay area, giving speeches and offering her services. Welch has an open door policy and loves when previous mentees like Cromartie come back to help out with the program.

“That’s the rewarding part,” Welch said, “to be able to see the young ladies that go off to school, or you know the military or whatever they choose to do in life, but they don’t forget the program that helped them get there.”

“I’ve known Ms. Donna for a very long time,” Cromartie said. “And she’s not only been and instructor from the MDK perspective…but also like a godmother to me.”

Welch hopes to continue to influence young girls by expanding her program to Tampa.

Author James Morrow gives lecture at USF

On Monday, March 21, 2016 renowned science fiction author, James Morrow, will be visiting USF to discuss his new novel, “Galapagos Regained”.

Morrow will be giving a lecture on the fourth floor of USF’s library at 6:00 p.m. where he will discuss issues of science, religion, and pop culture. Joining Morrow will be fellow science fiction author and USF professor, Rick Wilbur.

“I’ve been in the science fiction community for a long time,” said Wilbur. “Getting Morrow to do this lecture was as easy as some scheduling and making phone calls to a comrade.”

After a small amount of aligning schedules between Wilbur, the university, and Morrow, the author is set to discuss his latest novel as a part of USF’s humanities institute’s lecture series.

“I urge all students who can make it to attend Morrow’s lecture,” said Wilbur. “He’s an incredible author and this is a great opportunity to discuss contemporary issues with a knowledgeable professional.”

Morrow, a self-proclaimed scientific humanist, is an author famous for his unconventional historical novels, which often examine the intertwining concepts of religion and science. His latest novel, “Galapagos Regained” plot centers on a Victorian adventurer who decides to repeat the voyages of Charles Darwin.

Anyone, whether a student, faculty or community member, will be able to attend both Morrow’s lecture and the event’s reception and book signing free of cost.

USF alumni eats like a caveman

 A young entrepreneur has taken her passion for eating healthy and combined it with her passion for cookies to create her own company Base Culture. This company is not like any other sweets retailer that sales brownies and banana bread; all of the products are paleo friendly, meaning they follow the popular Paleo Diet.

“The Paleo Diet is nicknamed the caveman diet for a reason” says Base Culture founder Jordann Windschauer, “If you were to follow the Paleo Diet, you eat meat, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit.” Windschauer praises the diet and even goes on to say that she felt “more alive than ever and had more energy than she had had in years.”

While the Paleo Diet did have its ups it also had its downs. Windschauer enjoyed the new found energy boost, but she also missed all the sweets she used to eat.

“You know it got really hard not being able to just grab banana bread on the way to work in the morning. I looked for products that could satisfy my sweet tooth but would also satisfy paleo requirements but there were none” said Windschauer. It was that same day she took matters into her own hand and stated creating “sweets” that were made solely from seeds, nuts, and fruits.

She then took her paleo friendly sweets she baked to her local gym to share with her friends and they became an instant hit. People soon began offering compensation for her products, and overnight the company Base Culture was created.

Many customers have claimed to not even taste the difference between paleo friendly brownies and regular brownies. “I just tasted it and it’s actually really good and it’s awesome that it’s really healthy” said satisfied customer Lexi Ashby.

The idea of paleo friendly products has taken the market by force. Since the company’s beginning in 2013, Base Culture products are now available in over 50 stores nationwide and will soon be available in Walmart.

 

 

 

 

CSDS responds to the refugee crisis at USF

The University of South Florida Tampa campus has been developing its 5 year Strategic Plan in order to create a more “universal” university that provides students with the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful. The USF Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies (CSDS) hosts conventions to introduce this plan, with distinguished scholars and professionals on matters of international significance.

On Apr. 20, 2016, CSDS hosted a conference to discuss the Western responses to the refugee crisis, and migration from the Middle East and North Africa.

Cassandra Kenning, an undergraduate intern at the Center says, “The Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies hosts these global conferences on USF campus for the students, and unfortunately a lot of students don’t know about the conferences that are happening. We try to hold them all day long starting in the morning till the late or midafternoon so students have the opportunity to come in between their classes. The conferences right now do a really great job at gathering community members to the university to participate.”

At the conference, speakers present their research on specific topics and all the attendees have the opportunity to ask questions. However, the conference isn’t just educational; it also helps bring the community together.

Tiffiany Portacio a student assistant at USF World says, “, I love seeing probably all of the different people that come from all different walks of life.”

Students and faculty can expect new conferences starting Fall 2016, with and new speakers and conference topics. Furthermore, the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies reminds the community that entrance to these conferences is free and open to the public.

Florida Focus News Brief April 12, 2016

In this episode: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn addresses the state of the city; a Tampa home fire leaves 12 people homeless; a seven-year-old girl is dead after a Lake Wales crash; a man is dead after a visit to the barbershop; the Pinellas Department of Health gives food recommendations for hurricane season.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_9EFT48SvA&feature=youtu.be

 

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Photo: Sanders in Tampa

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa March 10, and the turnout was larger than expected. Supporters from all walks of life eagerly stood in line for the opportunity to see Sanders speak on his aspirations for the country.

USF Week: Embracing A Brighter Tomorrow

 

 

Honoring the history of the University of South Florida, and showing school pride is what makes USF Week a special time for students to celebrate.

By having USF Week pay homage to the accomplishments that the institution achieved in its 60 years of service, the college community at USF expects to see 60 more years of prosperity in the future.

“These reasons are what make USF Week so important,” said Athena Bressack, Coordinator of USF’s Center for Student Involvement.

USF Week began as USF Day in 2010, which was declared by former mayor of Tampa Pam Iorio, on April 9. Two years later, the day expanded to a week-long celebration of all things green and gold.

“USF Week is a celebration on what it means to be a Bull,” Bressack said.

USF Week was created by the students, for the students. The planning committee and departments that organize the events during the week, are almost composed of students, staff and volunteers.

USF Week also provides an opportunity for students to meet new people, and learn about their experiences with one another.

During the USF KickOff, students from dozens of organizations, including fraternities, sororities and cultural clubs mingled with one another as two DJs from Bulls Radio were on the ones and twos. One DJ even performed a Caribbean Dancehall, which was infused with electronic dance music to please a mixed crowd.

The Kickoff began on April 4, which includes events like the Working Bulls Bag Breakfast, and the Mr. and Ms. USF Pagent. On Tuesday, Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton lectured a packed house of students and community members. USF Week continues until April 9 with a concert, appropriately titled Bullstock, as well as sporting events and a birthday party for USF’s famed mascot, Rocky D. Bull.

Malik Waters, a student assistant in the Center for Student Involvement, said the collaboration of multiple campus partners at USF make the week-long festival a success.

“I make sure that our vendors are paid,” Waters said, as he gestures to an arm full of USF Week wristbands. “Without us, there is no promotional stuff that everyone loves.”

Florida Focus News Brief April 5, 2016

In this episode: Pinellas schools are facing a federal civil rights review; a new way to buy used cars is coming to the Bay Area; a house fire in Brandon exposes a marijuana grow house; brain training exercises may help senior drivers keep their licenses longer; Sun n’ Fun begins today at Lakeland.

 

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