Panama City event aimed to inspire children Friday night

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It was a slam dunk night for Panama City’s Quality of Life Department as they partnered with local organizations to host an outdoor youth empowerment event at the Martin Luther King Junior Center.

“We want to give them as many experiences as possible so that they can realize they can do anything they put their minds to,” Girls Incorporated Executive Director Niki Kelly said.

Kelly said her organization is one of the many collaborating for this event. But as director Sean DePalma said, the overall message of this event was much more than free throws and three-pointers.

“We want to make sure we provide a platform that they can truly express themselves through physical activity, recreation, and enrichment,” said DePalma.

Pointers to encourage young men and women to begin looking toward their futures and take control of their own lives.

“It can be much bigger than what they see in and around their neighborhoods,” said Kelly.

Co-sponsors talked about the outreach programs and services they offer to guide kids down the right path. As these kids are swishing into a better future, DePalma said they are the leaders of the future and the users of their equipment to get there. Kelly says their hope is to get the youth involved in bigger projects coming up in the city so that their voices can be heard.

Even though some kids, like Christopher Battles, don’t mind admitting they were here simply to have fun with friends.

“When we’re older or something like that, we’ll be like ‘remember this? yeah it was a good time.’ So it does help me,” said Christopher.

Other kids like Ziggy Holley said listening to the community partners will help him to do better.

“Sometimes they probably went down the wrong road and telling youth of what you’re not supposed to do,” said Ziggy.

Kelly wants the kids to know they should take pride in themselves and voice their opinions.

“You’re smart and you have a lot to offer,” said Kelly

Both Kelly and DePalma want all these kids to grow up to be healthy, educated, and independent young men and women who feel they can take on the world. Some of these organizations include Boys and Girls Clubs of Bay County and JD Green Educational Services. DePalma said starting in April, they’ll have several more pop-up events around the city.

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