Mark DeMaio 0

Help protect youth intervention!

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January 7, 2009 Representative Geraldine Thompson 316 The Capitol 402 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300 RE: Prodigy Cultural Arts Budget cuts to youth intervention, prevention, diversion program Dear Representative Thompson: Orlando Neighborhood Improvement Corporation (ONIC) operates the Prodigy program which is an intervention, prevention and diversion program for at-risk youth. We have become aware of a proposal to cut 2.7 million dollars from the Prodigy Cultural Arts Program. This proposal would equate to the immediate closure of 37 Prodigy sites that serve between 200-500 at-risk youth annually in 6 counties (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco, Manatee and Orange). I am writing to encourage legislators to continue funding for Prodigy Cultural Arts Program. Prodigy has grown over the past few years because it works! An independent evaluation by USF showed that Prodigy dramatically improved the coping skills and mental health of at-risk youth, especially girls. Research also shows that, after participating for 8 weeks in Prodigy, kids (aged 7 to 17) who had committed crimes stayed clean: 94% never violated again. There are so few programs that can boast these outcomes. The Prodigy Program is a research based structured program and operates as a prevention, intervention, and diversion program for at-risk youth ages 7 to 17. Itâ

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