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Immokalee SWAMP youth learn about Council duties

Immokalee Council Project Manager Pete Aguilar, Jr. meets with members of the SWAMP youth group May 27 in his office, where he outlined what Council does for the reservation and its residents.
Immokalee Council Project Manager Pete Aguilar, Jr. meets with members of the SWAMP youth group May 27 in his office, where he outlined what Council does for the reservation and its residents.

IMMOKALEE — To give a group of Seminoles Without Addictions Make Progress (SWAMP) youth a glimpse at the business of running the Tribe, Immokalee Council Project Manager Pete Aguilar, Jr. invited the youngsters for a tour of his office May 27. He let each one sit at his desk and peer out the window overlooking the reservation.

“I can see everything from here,” Aguilar said. “I’m passionate about this community and care about the people here. Everything we do benefits them.”

The purpose of the tour was to let the kids know how much work goes into running the reservation, planning events and providing services for the community. But a more important message was a focal point of the tour.

“We want you to learn to be respectful here,” said Johnny Boone, Immokalee liaison event coordinator.

“No matter what kind of office you are in, you have to be respectful and behave,” added Aguilar. “The decisions we make here are with the entire community in mind.”

Youngsters from SWAMP check out the architectural plans for a community swimming pool, which is slated to be built in the next six months.
Youngsters from SWAMP check out the architectural plans for a community swimming pool, which is slated to be built in the next six months.

The kids listened intently as Aguilar and Boone outlined the process of making large and small decisions around the conference table in Aguilar’s office. Everything from designing flyers for events to deciding what to build on the reservation are all made in the office.

SWAMP, a weekly prevention program designed as an outreach to youth, is led by the Center for Behavioral Health but is a collaborative effort of many tribal departments. Education, culture, health, fitness, recreation and Boys & Girls Club all participate to present activities, projects and incentive trips.

As an added treat during the visit, Aguilar pulled out a set of blueprints and opened them on the table. The youth were thrilled when they saw the plans for a community pool. They asked when it will be finished and if they can swim in it any time they want.

The 50-by-30-foot pool should be completed in about six months. The hours will be posted and swimming will only take place with a lifeguard on duty.

Before the group left the field office, Aguilar and Boone presented them T-shirts with the Council seal on the back. Aguilar thanked them for listening and behaving so well.

“One day I hope to see one of you sitting in that chair,” Aguilar said.

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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