Earlier this year, Lakedria Moultry, an 18-year-old Boyd Anderson High School student and Jennaie Petit-Frere, a 14-year-old Broward resident who arrived to the U.S. after a tragic Haiti earthquake never imagined they would be walking the halls of the Florida House of Representatives in Tallahassee.
Through the Helping Abused Neglected Disadvantaged Youth (HANDY) Future Prep program along with the sponsorship of Representatives Hazelle Rogers and Rick Stark, Petit-Frere and Moultry participated in the 2014 House Page and Messenger Program.
“It was very rewarding to have provided Jennaie with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work alongside government officials and learn about the legislative process,” said Stark.
During a one-week stay, both students participated in the Page and Messenger Program and witnessed lawmakers, lobbyists, staff and constituents work together during committee meetings, House of Representatives sessions and press conferences. The program provided Moultry and Petit-Frere with a fun and educational experience as they toured the Governor’s Mansion, the Florida Supreme Court, the Museum of Florida History and the Historic Capitol.
“I’ll always be grateful for this experience,” said Lakedria, who plans to attend Florida State University or Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. “Before this week, I never knew that government impacts all facets of our lives. I’d like to thank HANDY for helping expand my horizons.”
The Page and Messenger Program is held for one week during the 60-day regular legislative session. Pages must be between 12 to 14 years old and messengers must be between 15 to 18 years old. As a page, the student serves in the House Chamber when the representatives are convened in session and the messengers work throughout the entire Capitol Complex within a two-block radius.
Students interested in applying must complete an application and provide signatures from a parent/guardian, the student’s school principal and a member of the Florida House of Representatives.
HANDY has provided teens from relative and foster care with the opportunity to participate in the program since 2004. Before the teens arrive to Tallahassee, they learn the core principles of the legislative process from HANDY’s CEO Evan Goldman, a seasoned lawyer/lobbyist with experience at the federal, state and local levels.
Article Courtesy: Eye On South FLorida