Hometown Heroes: Changing lives at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

- Harold is only fifteen, but he's already dealt with some pretty grown-up stuff. He made some bad choices early on, and ended up in the juvenile justice system.

"The way I was going, I wasn't going anywhere," said Harold.

But now Harold is turning his life around thanks to Eckerd Kids Project Bridge. The program helps kids like Harold transition out of the juvenile justice system and back into the community. 
    
"We pick up where the residential program left off," said Curtis Campogni with Eckerd Kids Project Bridge. "We do that by getting them jobs, matching them with mentors, certifications."

Harold's mentor is Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates. Once David heard about project, he knew he had to help.
    
"Project Bridge is out giving kids a second chance. We're giving animals a second chance, and these animals inspire people in their second chance. So, I thought we should all work together," said David.

So he partnered with Project Bridge inviting teens to the aquarium to get an up close look at the animals and learn their stories.

"Some of them had never seen a dolphin before, so they were wide eyed," Davis said, "They've earned it. They've made good on their second chance."

And if anyone knows about second chances, it's Clearwater Marine Aquarium. They are home to the famous Hope and Winter the dolphins.
  
"We spend a lot of our time working with kids from around the world who have some major medical issue or some life challenges that connect to Winter's story," explained David.

Now, he's using "A Dolphin's Tale" to help troubled kids in his own backyard.
  
"We have a saying around here that we rescue marine life and the human spirit. That's what we try and accomplish," said David

Harold says learning about the animals at CMA reminds him that everyone deserves a second chance-- including him.
   
"They got a story just like us. They go through some of the same challenges that we go through," reflected Harold.

It's through those challenges that both the kids and the animals find their strength. And that makes the partnership between David Yates and Project Bridge a perfect match.
    
David summed it up, "What Eckerd Kids does is they rescue the human spirit of these young men and women that need that. So if we can be involved in that and help inspire those kids, that's easy to get up to in the morning." 

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