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HSCO & AMIkids Host First Breaking Barriers Community Forum

by Joseph Gallina | Jul 01, 2021

Photo Jun 30, 1 01 46 PM (1)

HCSO & AMIkids Tampa Hosts

First Breaking Barriers Community Forum

An effort to connect youth and community leaders to move forward together

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and AMIkids Tampa conducted the first of three Breaking Barriers Community Forums: “Assumptions: Breaking Down Our Perceptions and Understanding Where They Come From” today.

Hosted at Bill Currie Ford on N. Dale Mabry Hwy, the forum included an esteemed group of community leaders as panelists, youth mentors from Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office, as well as a volunteer group of youth panelists from AMIkids Tampa. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Kathleen Heide, Professor, USF.

The forum provided a space for participants to share assumptions they may have made and share how these may have shaped how they interacted others. With guidance from Dr. Heide, participants worked to break down these assumptions by discussing how they can recognize when we make them and critically think about whether or not they are valid.

“There is a serious need of bridge building initiatives like Breaking Barriers to help foster a foundation of healthy communication, mutual trust, and understanding between our youth and their communities,” said Michael Thornton, President and CEO, AMIkids Inc. “These Community Forums are an important component of Breaking Barriers, as they allow participants to share, but also listen.”

Previously, AMIkids launched Breaking Barriers as a program focused on creating positive relationships between law enforcement and youth. But now, it has been expanded by building other relationships between youth and the community, including educators, health professionals, community activists, social workers, and others and exploring ways to embed the spirit of this initiative in their everyday work. Currently in a pilot phase at AMIkids Tampa, this program will eventually be expanded to all AMIkids programs across nine states.

The Breaking Barriers Program at AMIkids Tampa has been made possible by financial support from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, CAPTRUST Community Foundation, Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Forever 55 Microgrant, and AdventHealth Central.

This first Community Forum today included the below list of esteemed participants:

Community Leader Panelists

Captain Marvin Johnson, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

Mr. Sean Sullivan, General Manager, Bill Currie Ford

Mr. Fred Rosario, Site Director, Year Up

Mr. Elvin Martinez, Director of Community Relations, BAYS

Mr. Leonard Burke, Director of Asset Management, Beneficial

Pastor Paul Buster, New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church

Mr. Freddy Barton, Exec. Dir., Safe & Sounds Hillsborough


AMIkids Youth Mentors

Deputy Timothy White, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

Deputy Tyler Wilson, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office