19th HEAT Learn and Play Center
The Miami HEAT celebrated the opening of its 19th Learn & Play Center at José Martí Park Community Center in Miami, on June 4th. The new Learn & Play Center, refurbished in partnership with presenting sponsor and longtime HEAT community partner Florida Blue, will provide youth with a safe place to play and resources to help them explore their academic interests.
Following a press conference to kick off the event, HEAT players, Bam Adebayo and Derrick Jones, Jr., joined HEAT Dancers and HEAT Mascot, Burnie, to interact with students in the new Learn & Play Center. The HEAT renovated the hallway, multipurpose rooms and computer lab at José Martí Park Community Center and enhanced the rooms with new paint, wall graphics, tablets, board games and furniture. The Amigos for Kids/ José Martí Park After-School Program provides after-school activities to over 100 inner-city children, ages 6 to 12, and academic assistance by certified reading teachers, trained park counselors, and support staff.
In addition to Bam Adebayo and Derrick Jones, Jr., other notable attendees and speakers included: Francis Suarez, City of Miami Mayor; Eileen Higgins, Miami-Dade County Commissioner, District 5; Michael Baiamonte, Miami HEAT Public Address Announcer; Jose Pañeda, Miami HEAT Spanish Radio Announcer/Senior Advisor, Hispanic Broadcasting & Marketing; Penny Shaffer, Florida Blue, South Florida Market President; Jorge A. Plasencia, Co-Founder, Amigos for Kids; Nicole Valls, Board Chair, Amigos for Kids; Lydia I. Muniz, Interim President & CEO, Amigos for Kids.
“The Miami HEAT strive for excellence on the court, but they also give back to their community in any way possible,” said City of Miami Mayor, Francis Suarez.
Amigos for Kids is a 501(C)3 non-profit corporation founded in 1991 to respond initially to the diverse needs of South Florida’s abused, abandoned and less fortunate children and their families, through education, abuse prevention and community involvement. Their mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect by valuing children, strengthening families and educating communities. Throughout its history, Amigos has come to the aid of South Florida’s most valuable resource - its children.