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Johnson Park Center's Say No to Drugs Party Wrap-up

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

What: Johnson Park Center's Say No to Drugs Party & Free Food Give-A-Way!

When: Monday, June 12, 2017@4pm- 9pm

Where: Johnson Park Center, Johnson Park-Cornhill, Utica NY

Utica NY-Johnson Park Center (JPC) opened its 22nd summer season with the Say No to Drugs Party & Free Food Give-A-Way on Monday June 12, 2017.

Onstage, Rev. Dr. Scates, Rev. Meier, Ms. Thayer, JPC Staff, and special guests addressed the community with encouragement and positivity. JPC program participants shared their experiences, what they are learning at JPC and their goals for the future. The Youth Voice Initiative – who are between ages 9-14 year old, Junior Youth Voice Initiatives between ages 6-8 and are learning to speak up, be leaders & positive role models – were onstage as well, declaring their five reasons why they refuse to use drugs.

The games and activities for children included: "Say No to Drugs" coloring & drawing contests, pogo stick contests, gue ssing game, sports activities, the bouncy house, etc. with an awards ceremony. Meanwhile, the adults were able to participate in the free food giveaway – fresh produce-fruits & vegetables, assorted meats, dry & canned items, juices, bread, etc. were available for the community at large.

JPC urges community members to constantly strive to improve their circumstances – and faithfully celebrates accomplishments. Two special ceremonies did just that during the event:

(1) 5 Johnson Park Apartments (JPA) Program Participants completed the JPC Empowerment Program, in which they learned pre-employment skills, coping skills for stress and other factors that inhibit their ability to live a safe, sober lifestyle and to establish goals for career opportunities to re-enter the workforce.

(2) 17 Community Families were honored during the Head, Hand & Heart (HHH) Family Enrichment Program Recognition Ceremony for the progress that has been achieved since the beginning of this year. HHH is an early childhood development, behavior modification and access to education, literacy, learning and school readiness success program for children ages 3, 4 & 5. The preschoolers learn "hands-on" with technology & educational toys, receives individual tutoring and group traditional education & life skills activities. The preschooler's siblings have access to the HHH services and their parents/caregivers receives assistance through advocacy, home visits and parenting support group which are designed to enhance 3 to 5 years old quality of life to stimulate early learning; and develop family healthy home life because the two combined are paramount to a child's school success.

Both of the beautiful ceremonies emphasized JPC's commitment to progress, growth, and positive change within the community! The 22nd Year Celebration will continue July 17-22, during JPC's Week of Celebration, with many special attractions!

This event was being sponsored in part by Utica National Group Foundation, Inc. Fund, M&T Bank/Partners Charitable Fund & the Mele Family Funds-Donor Advised Funds of the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties; the United Way for the Valley and Greater Utica Area; the National Emergency Food and Shelter Program; the Food Bank of Central New York, the Bank of Utica, the United Health Community Plan, the US HUD Supportive Housing Program, New York State Supportive Housing Program, NYS Homeless Housing & Assistance Program, Oneida County Youth Bureau, Oneida County Department of Social Services, the City of Utica Community Development Block Grant and Emergency Solutions Grant and JPC friends & supporters.