[Local ABC 10 News]

Miami Children’s Initiative runs small community haven for kids

Miami Northwestern High School student Kiandra Carter said that growing up in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood isn’t safe.

Liberty City is a historic neighborhood between Northwest 79th and 54th Streets and Northwest 27th Avenue and Interstate 95. It is home to Miami-Dade County’s oldest housing project and was the heart of African-American nightlife and tourism during segregation.

Crime remains prevalent in the poverty-stricken neighborhood and gang activity remains an option for children. Kiandra said she hears “gunshots all the time.”

The Miami Children’s Initiative moved into a small community center a few years. Miami Northwestern High School student Tyrone Brown spends his free time at the MCI center. He said that after losing a childhood friend in a shooting, he was more motivated than ever to do everything in his power to go away for college.

“I could have been with them and I could have gotten shot too,” Tyrone said. “It made me open my eyes and try my hardest in school and hopefully go to college and do what I have to do.”

Tyrone said he wants to be a petroleum engineer. They play a pivotal role in the drilling process of oil and natural gas production and earn an average of $100,000 a year.

His friend Akarie Folkes is also a regular at the MCI community center. He aspires to play basketball at Rutgers University. Like Kiandra, he is also aware about the lack of safety in his neighborhood. The two find safety at the small MCI center.

“It’s been tough to see kids growing up looking up to the people that are going to jail, doing the violent things, robbing, killing,” Akarie said. “They grow up to do that stuff. What’s going to change it is growing up and trying to set an example for the young kids.”