When Miami resident Aaron Kredi was diagnosed in 2007 with celiac disease he was just 7 years old. Since then, he has worked many service hours advocating for newly diagnosed children in South Florida who must change their diets to only gluten-free food.
Now 17 and a senior at American Heritage School, Aaron is especially motivated by those with the disease who depend on donations from food banks.
When he started working with the Jewish Community Services Kosher Food Bank in North Miami Beach, he noticed that there were few choices for residents with celiac disease.
Aaron asked if he could create a special section of the food bank and started asking friends and family to donate gluten-free items. The added challenge is that the items must also be kosher. He set up a fundraising page with JCS Kosher Food Bank and the money was used to purchase gluten-free food.
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“According to the CDC, one in 100 Americans has celiac disease. The only known cure is a strict adherence to a gluten-free diet,” Aaron said in email. “Gluten-free food is very expensive. I have seen through the years working at JCS Kosher Food Bank that there is a huge need for gluten-free foods to be present in food banks.”
Most recently, just after Hurricane Irma left many South Florida residents without food and supplies, Aaron made door-to-door deliveries for homebound seniors and Holocaust survivors who weren't able to come by the food bank to get supplies after the storm.
He also spent hours with some of his teenage friends to restock the shelves before and after the storm.
You can read more and donate at https://gfshelves.wordpress.com, where you can also learn about Aaron’s mission “to ensure that those with dietary restrictions requiring gluten-free food don’t have to worry about a lack of food when falling on hard times.”
“I hope to continue to expand this project into other local and national food banks,” he said.
Nearly 150 teen volunteers attended the Miami-Dade County Teen Court (MDCTC) annual Youth Legal Education Summit to gain valuable lessons and learn about careers in law and law enforcement. Previous and current Teen Court volunteers, Teen Court defendants, and teens of the Explorers Program from local police departments were in attendance.
The Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust and the Miami-Dade County Police Department hosted the two-day event that was held at the University of Miami School of Law.
The summit is designed to train high school students, ages 14-18, as youth attorneys, specifically for serving as prosecuting and defense attorneys for Teen Court.
Attendees, who received community service hours, also had the chance to network and interact with local practicing attorneys who volunteered to share courtroom-training skills.
Guest instructor Dionne Stephens, an associate professor in the psychology department at Florida International University, spoke with the students about the importance of respecting others and respecting themselves. She provided real-life examples and held a discussion with the students that related to developing courtroom experience.
Trust Teen Court specialist Ralph McCloud also addressed the students along with John Ingraham who energized the attendees at the start of the event. Ingraham asked the students to share their fears, and showed them how to turn those fears into motivation.
“Teen Court has impacted every neighborhood in Miami-Dade County,” said John Dixon, trust executive director, in a release. “It is imperative that the community knows that Teen Court is the program that not only provides juveniles with a second chance, but also provides opportunities for our volunteers and defendants. This summit allows for all Teen Court volunteers and defendants to come together with working professionals and to enhance their development as they become young adults.”
Ours is one of 1,300 Teen Court programs nationwide and is the largest in Florida. For 20 years, Teen Court has sanctioned nearly 8,000 local youth and has maintained a low recidivism rate of less than 3 percent. It depends on youth volunteers and adult judge volunteers as well as local police and the Juvenile Services Department for referrals.
The summit is part of the overall mission to reduce the juvenile crime rate and provide youth with a second chance. Teens and adult volunteers can learn more and get involved at http://www.miamidade.gov/economicadvocacytrust/teen-court.asp.
Party with poets
The Sunny Isles Beach Public Library will celebrate the first anniversary of its Open Poetry Reading at 4 p.m. Oct. 14 at 18070 Collins Ave. Branch manager Hector Vazquez would like all poets and poetry lovers to join this growing community group.
“Bring your own poetry to share, listen to others recite their poems, or come share your all-time favorites with others,” Vazquez said in email. “We meet at 4 p.m. inside the library. The Open Poetry session is open to the public of all ages.” Sessions are held the second Saturday of each month. Call 305-682-0726 for information.
If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at firstname.lastname@example.org.