MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The Martin County School District has joined forces with a local charity organization to help local teens who are at risk.
Project LIFT, is a mental health and vocational career training program that serves students at Spectrum Academy, the school district's alternative education secondary school.
Bob Zaccheo, a licensed psychotherapist, started the program nearly a 11 years ago which offers training in 11 different trades.
"We do construction and carpentry work, boat building, boat restoration, screen printing, graphic arts, welding and HVAC," Zaccheo said.
Charles Taylor is a student at Spectrum Academy and recently graduated from the Project LIFT program. In his spare time, you can find him giving back to the program by helping teach other teens how to weld. Prior to attending the program, Taylor says staying out of trouble wasn't an easy task.
“I went from a kid that was dependent on other people that weren’t a good influence on my life and I sort of gave up on life," said Taylor.
With the help of staff at Project LIFT, he has since turned his life around. Graduating from high school is now in sight and he also has high hopes of ultimately becoming a stick welder.
"This program changes people, it changed me and it saves lives," Taylor said.
Taylor's Teacher, Robert Adriel, says he has witnessed the programs impact first hand.
“It gives them the sense that they can accomplish something and stand on their own two feet, some of them for the first time that’s the first experience they’ve ever had with something positive," Adriel said.
Currently, the students are in the process of putting the finishing touches on their latest creation, a 400 square foot tiny house that will be auctioned off Thursday night to local donors. The project has taken just a few months to build, but has created a lifetime of hope.
"When they realize they can actually do something it opens up the world for them," Adriel explained.
Proceeds from the auction will be invested back into the program to continue helping at risk teens in Martin County.
"Therapy doesn’t have to take place in an office and education doesn’t have to take place in a classroom," Taylor said.