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Florida Trip More Than Family Vacation
The Department of Social Services (DSS), aided by community collaborations, will send 145 children and 75 adults on a trip to Universal Studios theme park in Florida this week as part of the "Literacy for Life Forever" program.

CHARLOTTE, NC - A 10-year-old who less than a year ago spoke only French and German, but now reads English at a ninth-grade level in his fifth-grade class at Highland Renaissance Academy will take the trip.

A grandmother who adopted her three young grandchildren so the siblings can grow up together will make the trip. So will a mother who adopted one child eight years ago and now is extending her family by adopting a teenage brother and sister.

A successful fund-raising effort by the Department of Social Services (DSS), aided by community collaborations, will send 145 children and 75 adults on a trip to Universal Studios theme park in Florida this week.

"Literacy for Life Forever" is a program that gives students and their parents the opportunity to work as a team to be eligible for the trip. The Mecklenburg County DSS, along with Communities in Schools and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, is making the trip possible for a second year. Last year the program took students and families on a trip to Disney World.

This year's trip is expanded to include 33 children in County custody with the DSS Youth and Family Services Division (YFS). Some of the children have been cleared for adoption and others are in foster care. Recent adoptive families will take the trip, and some families in the process of adopting will use the trip as an opportunity to bond.

Money raised from sponsors such as Wachovia, St. Matthews Catholic Church and Stoney Sellars of Technology Project Management helped make the trip possible. The money raised from grants, businesses, fund-raising projects, parent contributions, local churches and other groups totaled $70,000. Students work at improving their grades and parents or guardians attend workshops that help with parenting, budgeting, home ownership and other issues.

"Parents and students work as a team to be eligible for this trip," said Wanda Moss, coordinator of Literacy for Life Forever and a DSS community social worker. "The joint mission of these organizations is to promote literacy in the home, and to connect the home, community and school, children and parents with a broader vision of the world. Parents realize that they can set and meet goals that can alter their life as they become an integral part of the community."

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Media contact: Suzanne Jeffries at 704-353-0774, or
jeffesu@co.mecklenburg.nc.us or Darrell Cunningham at 704-336-3286 or
cunnida@co.mecklenburg.nc.us




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