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Judges Go With Informal Look In Order to Inspire

Judges from Pasco and Pinellas look to inspire and motivate at-risk teenage boys and girls at the Youth Development Initiative Judicial Forum Saturday.

Judges from Pasco and Pinellas will disrobe in an effort to inspire and motivate at-risk teenage boys and girls at the Youth Development Initiative Judicial Forum Saturday.

Judge Michael Andrews, James Pierce, Pasco County Judge Debra Roberts and Circuit Judge Patrice Moore will be out of the typical black robes as they share their experiences to help teens overcome prejudices and make positive choices when faced with difficult life decisions.

The program started in the 1990s with help from Joseph Smiley, dean of social and behavioral sciences at St. Petersburg College, and Randolph Lightfoot, former curriculum specialist of African American Education for Pinellas County Schools.  

They invited Elijah Smiley of the 14th Judicial Circuit in North Florida as the first African American judge to participate in the forum. Andrews took over leadership of the forum and worked to get other African American judges to help about 10 years ago. 

Pierce and the Alpha Institute, a mentoring program that focuses on at-risk African American males in middle and high school, has also helped with the forum.

Although the Alpha Institute’s focus is African American males, the Judicial Forum is a public program open to the entire community.

The program is a collaboration of the Youth Development Initiative, Alpha Institute, Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board, Dunedin Highland Middle School, Omicron Beta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and Nu Beta Omega Chapter of Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Additional information is available by contacting Edward D. McKahand, executive director of Youth Development Initiative, at 727-442-5550.

If you go:

What: Youth Development Initiative judicial forum

When: noon Saturday

Where: Dunedin Highland Middle School, 70 Patricia Ave

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