MIAMI – February 18, 2008 A longtime supporter of early childhood development initiatives, Miami-based cruise vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is expanding its efforts to include a support program for teens aging out of local foster care systems. As part of its Black History Month activities, the corporation will launch a program designed to provide foster care children ages 16 and older with critical support services such as education, life skills and employment training, affordable housing, transportation, physical and mental health care, and more. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is partnering with several non-profits in the effort, including Educate Tomorrow; Handy, Inc.; and Our Kids.
“In most cases, children who grow up in foster care turn 18 and suddenly find themselves with no one to turn to for support, which often leads to them becoming homeless, unemployed, and in some cases, mentally ill,” said Horace Hord, Associate Vice President of Global Community Relations, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We recognize that South Florida communities have a dire need for support for these teens, and we aim to help make their transition from foster care to becoming productive, happy and healthy adults an easier one.”
The program is launching in tandem with the corporation’s Black History Month extravaganza this year. On Wednesday, February 20, 60 foster care students ages 16 and older from Miami-Dade and Broward counties’ school systems will attend a day of training on life skills, financial literacy and career opportunities.
Barrington Irving, the local youth who recently earned the honor of being the youngest pilot to complete a solo flight around the world, will speak to the teens mid-day, bringing several flight simulators with which the participating teens can experiment. The U.S. Coast Guard also will be on hand to talk with the teens about potential career opportunities with the agency.
The evening of February 20 will feature an extravaganza celebration that kicks off with activities for the teens at Jungle Island. The evening also includes a light dinner and reception open to the public, where well-known television actress and former foster child Victoria Rowell will sign copies of her book about her life experiences and deliver a keynote address.
“As a major employer in South Florida, it is our responsibility to take action to improve the lives of people in our community,” Hord said. “As Americans, it is our challenge to learn about the history of the cultures that make up our nation. The fact that we are able to launch this program in recognition of Black History Month makes it even more meaningful.”
The public is welcome to attend the reception and presentation by Victoria Rowell. The reception begins at 6 p.m. and Rowell’s remarks begin at 7 p.m. at Jungle Island, in Miami.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is a global cruise vacation company that operates Azamara Cruises, CDF CroisiÃƒÂ¨res de France, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur and Royal Caribbean International. The company has a combined total of 35 ships in service and seven under construction. It also offers unique land-tour vacations in Alaska, Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin and South America and New Zealand.