The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $424,821 to a Pinellas County nonprofit, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist announced this week.
The grant will be going to Life-Skills, Empowerment and Development Services (LEADS), a nonprofit based in Largo. The award will fund the organization’s Health Education and Relationship Training Services (HEARTS) Camps for high schoolers.
As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, Crist helped secure $35 million in fiscal year 2021 for HHS’s Sexual Risk Avoidance Education Program, which funds this grant.
“LEADS supports the families of Pinellas by providing children of all ages with resources to help them emotionally develop,” Crist said in a statement. “I’m excited to see this well-deserved grant awarded to HEARTS Camps as they teach young people the skills they need to have safe and healthy interpersonal relationships.”
The HEARTS program promotes the development of high school students by educating them on healthy relationship practices and sexual respect. The camp seeks to teach teenagers to make wise choices that result in positive interpersonal environments in the future.
The nonprofit continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, offering its services for free. Its HEARTS Camps have reached hundreds of high school students annually to promote emotional, social, and academic competence and prevent and reduce risk-taking behaviors.