AMI Kids of Acadiana Executive Director James Higginbotham brought with him to Tuesday’s Rotary Club of Crowley meeting four young men who gave testimonials that showed gratitude for a second chance on life and talked about how AMI Kids had helped each of them individually.
AMI Kids of Acadiana has been in operation for almost five years, according to Higginbotham, and has 31 kids at this time, most of which are from the Acadiana area.
It is also boasting a success rate of 80 percent of its youth not being re-arrested, which is something he and the staff are very proud of.
While all four had common elements in their speeches, one was most prevalent, the gratitude toward Higginbotham and the AMI Kids staff, which has helped each of them turn their lives around.
Each had the chance to speak Tuesday to show how much they have changed since joining the program.
“These guys will present what they call motivational speeches, but what I call speeches from the kids’ heart,” said Higginbotham.
Speaking first was Jamikel Phillips. Phillips talked about getting in trouble with the law at an early age for a variety of charges before landing at AMI Kids of Acadiana and how he now has plans for his future.
“This has been beneficial to my future,” he said. “After I leave AMI, I plan on attending community college after earning my GED.”
Next to speak was Dataven Jones, who also faced similar arrests and problems before being sent to AMI Kids of Acadiana. Now he looks forward to his life after AMI and to showing those who love him how different he is.
“I want to show my parents how much I have changed,” said Jones. “I want to go to college and become a successful citizen.”
Chris Oubre was third to speak and pointed out how AMI is truly his “second chance.”
“Now I want to build my life in the exact opposite way of what I was living it before,” he said. “AMI Kids was my second chance.”
Finally, Joel Safe spoke about how behavioral problems led to breaking laws and how AMI changed everything for him.
“AMI has done so much for me and it continues to do so much for me,” said Safe.
After each spoke, the Rotary Club of Crowley gave them a standing ovation, showing their appreciation for not only the four testimonials but the visible difference in each of these young men.
Finally Rotarian Scott Privat pointed out how a program like AMI Kids of Acadiana not only helps the young men, but is helpful to the community at large.
“It’s positive programs like this that help guide [those involved] and turn their lives around,” he said.