The Centre for Girls is a youth organization aimed at girls from ages 5 to 14. It is led by Sartura Shuman-Smith, the center’s program director. The center is also organized by program manager, Walter Jennings.
“This place is so therapeutic and so healing for me,” Shuman-Smith said. “It is just so important for me to know I have a purpose.”
When asked about the focus of the Centre for Girls, Shuman-Smith said, “We’re not creating girls or enhancing girls, we are creating women and developing women.” She talked about the accounting classes, dance instruction, as well as a Lego program for the young women ages five to nine.
Walter Jennings, the program manager, is in charge of after-school help, as well as developing a curriculum for all of the girls attending.
“Our heart’s passion and desire is for young people to come up with good, constructive ways to deal with some of the issues and challenges that they have,” Jennings said. He talked about how his girls attended the center and how much he feels he owes the organization.
The Centre for Girls is located on 105 W. Sligh Avenue and serves an enrichment program for girls ages 5 to 14. The program is not free, although the website offers program assistance. There are currently 46 girls attending the center.
According to the website, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay uses hands-on experiences to help young people understand the economics of life. In partnership with business and educators, Junior Achievement brings the real world to students, opening their minds to their potential.
Fifth grade student Sonja Assidy is the CEO of Bright House. She works hard to make sure her business runs smoothly.
“I take checks to Kane’s Furniture, I go get the checks from Kane’s Furniture, bring it here, make sure my CFO signs it and then put it where it needs to go,” Assidy said.
Sally Eidge is the Director of Junior Achievement and sees over a hundred students daily. She wants every student to learn a valuable lesson.
“They need to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, that you actually have to earn it and then spend it wisely,” Eidge said.
Before visiting JA BizTown, students complete a pre-visit curriculum program where they learn basic economic principles such as how to manage their personal bank account.
Kelly Thorne is a fifth grade language arts teacher at Deer Park Elementary and prepared her students for 12 weeks prior to coming to JA Biztown.
“We spend a lot of time on how to write checks, how to deposit checks, that whole process and how to budget their money,” Thorne said. “How when they get a paycheck, they have to make sure they save some money for their lunch, and then they have some spending money.”
Armando Gort had one dream when he was a boy: to have his own farm. Today, that dream is a reality.
There are many animals on Gort’s farm, even though his original thought was that he would only have a few horses. He began riding horses as a young child.
“I started when I was five or six years old. My dad used to have animals, so he got me involved with animals,” he said.
He is now the founder of a nonprofit called HorsePower for Kids. Children and adults come to learn and interact with the animals.
All ages are welcome. There is a petting zoo for younger kids, and older kids can ride the horses.
It takes many volunteers to run the nonprofit. Saskia Ravelli, farm manager, says volunteers provide 95 percent of the help.
“On a regular basis during the week, we probably have about 80, but with special events, it goes up to about 300,” Ravelli said.
HorsePower for Kids is hosting a fall fundraiser with hay rides, live music, pony rides, games and activities. The event runs Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Oct. 3 through Nov. 1. Admission is $10 per person.
Money raised pays for the care of animals. Ravelli said it costs $25,000 to operate the farm.