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Palmetto Youth Center, A Community Asset

The Palmetto Youth Center was founded in 1957 to provide an outlet for physical development for children of color. The original facility consisted of four walls with no roof. Fortunately, the vision over the years of community leaders like Seymour Sailes, Willie Clemons, Ruby Fobbs, Floyd Roundtree, Harold Morgan and countless others has evolved into an organization that has an enormous positive impact north of the Manatee River. 

Today, Reggie Bellamy leads the Palmetto Youth Center as its Executive Director and he has a vision for the future. Reggie benefited from the Palmetto Youth Center as he came of age in Palmetto. “The Center and its Directors had a positive impact on my life” Reggie stated. “So many people went out of their way to help me, whether it was leaving the gym open so I could practice or just giving me a word of encouragement when I needed positive reinforcement.” 

Reggie Bellamy, Manatee County Commissioner, District 2

Today, Reggie has the blessing of giving back to the young people of Palmetto. The mission of the Center is to provide a safe environment for the youth in the community and to keep them focused on a brighter future while helping them avoid falling prey to the dangers of the streets.

The Palmetto Youth Center serves male and female young people from ages 6-18 years of age. Reggie has focused on the STRENGTH acronym to lay a new foundation for the center.









This focus on STRENGTH is designed to produce well-rounded healthy young people who can be successful in life.

A typical day at Palmetto Youth Center starts at 6:30AM as children are dropped off by parents on their way to work. Palmetto Youth Center will bus the children to their respective schools. 

After school ends the students are picked up and transported back to the Center where programs start at 3:30PM. There is a study hall for homework and then a snack for the children. Programs then start throughout the balance of the day. Students can participate in computer labs, arts and crafts and games. The School Board of Manatee has software that is used to assist the students as they prepare their homework. The gaming portion of the day is sports and electronics. 

Character development is an important part of the program at Palmetto Youth Center. Reggie Bellamy says his joy is watching young people get college degrees  and enter into society. Tropicana has funded a mentoring program that several students have found helpful in their development. One participant  now works as an engineer at Tropicana. 

Manatee County benefits from several organizations that provide resources to the youth of our community. Reggie Bellamy and the Palmetto Youth Center are a valuable part of the foundation of our community.

In celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the Palmetto Youth Center will host the annual banquet on January 13th in the Seymour Sailes Gymnasium. On Saturday the 14th, the center will host the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade. The theme this year is: “Dream It. Plan It. Do It.”

Bob Spencer
Manatee Herald

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