The City of Coral Gables is among the 2012 winners of the 100 Best Communities for Young People, presented by America’s Promise Alliance and ING. Coral Gables was selected for demonstrating a lasting commitment to youth development through educational initiatives, civic engagement, and recreational programs. The national competition is part of the Grad Nation campaign, a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to end the dropout crisis.
Among the programs assisting young people in Coral Gables is the compact agreement the City currently has with the Miami-Dade County School Board which has improved overall academic performance, increased school resources and expanded community involvement. As a result of this agreement, all Coral Gables schools have a grade B or higher and a new International Studies Preparatory Academy (ISPA) and Coral Gables K-8 Center have been established.
The War Memorial Youth Center also provides a wide range of programs, activities, camps and special events throughout the year for children and young adults. The center offers a gymnasium, a fitness center, outdoor lighted basketball courts and roller hockey ring, an auditorium/theater, a dance/aerobics studio, child care room, specialized classrooms, and more. The City’s Parks and Recreation Youth Advisory Board offers young volunteer members, who are appointed by the City Commission, to meet on a monthly basis and get involved on issues of importance related to parks and recreation programs and services.
The Youth Resource Unit of the Coral Gables Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division patrols school campuses, investigates youth-related criminal cases, holds special events and provides various camps during school break. An additional resource from the Police Department is the Youth Director’s Council, a leadership and community service program for ages 12 to 18 who receive training on leadership, citizenship, public speaking, financial responsibility, and character building. Last year, members of the council volunteered more than 1,300 hours of community service. Also making youth a priority is the Coral Gables Police Athletic League (PAL), a non-profit recreational league which encourages health and fitness, instills sportsmanship, and helps reduce and eliminate substance abuse and juvenile delinquency.
In its sixth year, the competition received nominations from more than 320 communities throughout the United States. Other chosen communities in Florida included Greenacres, Miami Lakes, North Lauderdale, Sarasota County, St. Petersburg, and Tampa/Hillsborough.