Working toward a reward

Published: Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 12:30 a.m.

One good deed deserves another, the saying goes.

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Erica Chesak paints the inside of a window in a door at the AMIKids classroom in Micanopy Saturday morning as part of the "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" promotion put on by Disney to encourage volunteering with a local non-profit.

Brad McClenny / Special to The Sun

And for the team of youth volunteers who painted classrooms and picked up trash at AMIKids in Micanopy on Saturday, the reward will be a free pass to a Disney theme park.

Volunteers helped paint the AMIKids classrooms to create a brighter atmosphere and cleaned up the grounds so the students can engage in nature-based learning, said George Tatum, director of operations at AMIKids.

AMIKids, a Tampa-based organization that helps troubled youths by offering education, discipline and guidance, hosted the first of four volunteer days Saturday.

Saturday's volunteers were from Micanopy and elsewhere in the county. Next weekend's volunteers will be Girl Scouts from Keystone Heights, Tatum said.

The Micanopy AMIKids location is one of 56 in the nation, according to the organization's Web site.

"I think it's important for these kids to see they don't always have to be worried that someone expects something from them and that people will give to them," said Tatum of the youths enrolled in AMIKids.

Students are sent to AMIKids by a court mandate or school referral and attend school at the AMIKids facility. The organization's goal is for youths to gain self-respect by setting high expectations for them to achieve.

"Something that helps them aim higher is that if they complete our program and finish regular school, then we will give them a scholarship to help pay for their first two years of college," Tatum said.

Free Disney passes will be given away as part of Disney's "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" program. To be eligible for a free pass, volunteers must pre-register at More information on AMIKids can be found on its Web site,

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