Florida’s Youth in Foster Care Soar to New Heights at STEM Camp

For Immediate Release:
July 27, 2012

Nicole Stookey
Northwest Region Communications Director
(850) 509-2675

Florida’s Youth in Foster Care Soar to New Heights at STEM Camp
~Aviation-based Camp for Champions sponsored by AT&T provides a unique, educational summer experience~

PENSACOLA – Twenty youth in Florida’s foster care system embarked upon a once-in-a-lifetime experience this week onboard the Ambition, a simulated modern day aircraft carrier, at the National Flight Academy at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The middle and high school students arrived on Sunday for the Ambition Aviation in Residence (AIR) program. Ambition AIR couples multi-sensory media and simulation technologies with dynamic teaching methods using game-play combined with the thrill of flight, aviation missions, critical thinking, science and technology.Graduation: Youth line up for graduation from Ambition

Multinational telecommunications corporation AT&T, the Department of Children and Families and Florida’s Foundation teamed up to help the foster youth gain a new perspective on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) so they can excel in traditional studies and begin preparing for work later in life. AT&T’s generous contribution of $25,000 through Florida’s Foundation covered the cost of 20 camp scholarships, along with a $50 VISA gift card for each camper for mementos and transportation costs.

“These children deserve every opportunity to have summer camp experiences just like other youth,” DCF Secretary David Wilkins said. “AT&T’s commitment to sending them to such a cutting-edge educational experience like Ambition AIR is a reflection of corporate commitment to create promising futures for our children in foster care.”

AT&T and the AT&T Foundation have a long history of corporate philanthropy, supporting programs and projects that create learning opportunities, promote academic and economic achievement and address community needs. Their contribution for Florida’s youth in foster care is a continuance of their longtime commitment to education and STEM in the state.Secretary Wilkins and Marshall Criser: DCF Secretary David Wilkins presents AT&T Florida President Marshall Criser III with a pl

"We at AT&T appreciate the ability to give back in this innovative way that really inspires children in our own community,” said Marshall Criser III, AT&T Florida President. “We are pleased to be able to partner with the Department of Children and Families and the National Flight Academy to give these children a fun, educational and motivating experience."

Ambition’s five-day, immersive experience combines the love of game-playing with a STEM curriculum. On board Ambition’s 100,000 square feet of virtual play, campers plunge into an exciting mission with squadrons competing to successfully complete a task using both STEM skills and life skills, such as critical thinking, teamwork, problem-solving and communication, in order to have a successful mission.

"Ambition is creating a new generation of smart kids and leaders, and with the generous support of organizations like AT&T, Florida’s Foundation and the Department of Children and Families, we are accessible to all kids," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Gerry Hoewing, President of the National Flight Academy, the parent organization for Ambition.Secretary Wilkins & Youth: DCF Secretary David Wilkins and a youth in foster care share a laugh at the graduation ceremony.

The AT&T-sponsored camp is one of more than a dozen statewide Camps for Champions (www.campsforchampions.com) this year. The summer camps offered mentoring, team-building and leadership opportunities for more than 1,000 children in foster care and helped the youth build self-esteem, confidence, and character and strengthen life skills.

AT&T joins hundreds of other Florida businesses as “Partners for Promise” with the Department of Children and Families. For more information or to become involved, please visit www.flpartnersforpromise.com.