TAMPA, Fla. - A local non-profit is celebrating 20 years of service of helping bay area youth with life-changing programs.
Before COVID-19 you could find hundreds of children taking part in the Prodigy Cultural Arts program. The 20-year-old initiative is a research-based prevention and diversion program for at-risk youth ages 5 to18.
"We want to give young people an outlet," said Mike Trepper, director of the Prodigy Cultural Arts Program. "We want to give them skills to develop into positive adults so that they can contribute back into the community."
More than 99% of kids involved with Prodigy stay out of trouble with law enforcement.
"We know that it is a great prevention program that works that keeps kids on the right track and give them those crucial life skills that they need for positive development," Trepper said.
More than 30,000 students have participated in the free cultural arts program.
"Kids from St. Petersburg all the way over from Orlando, down I-4. Learning those crucial life skills through the culture arts," Trepper explained.
Prodigy's educators teach everything from musical instruments to painting to hip-hop dancing. Prodigy is proud of its success.
"We have alumni who are adults now, who were kids going through Prodigy and there out being successful business people, teachers, doctors," Trepper said.
Through art, the program is helping young people build self-confidence and develop lifelong positive habits for future success. The Department of Juvenile Justice sponsors the free program. They are using Zoom to teach classes now and last year, they launched a mobile program called Prodigy Moves. For more information, visit https://www.uacdc.org/index.php/about-prodigy.