Teen injured in fireworks accident says ‘big brother’ helped deal with recovery

Several fireworks accidents have been reported in July in South Florida and a Broward County teenager knows exactly how the most recent victims are feeling.

Javonte McNair lost his hand and sight in one eye in 2015 when a firecracker he was holding suddenly went off.

The teen told Local 10 News that being involved in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program has helped with his recovery.

McNair was 13 when he was injured by the firecracker.

He is now in ninth grade and said the loss of his hand has been very difficult, but being involved in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program has helped.  

He said his big brother, Troy, encouraged him during some very dark days.

“He’s like a father to me. We do cool things, we hang out,” McNair said.

Troy’s wife, Traci, is also a part of McNair’s life, and helped him pick out an outfit for a fundraising fashion show for the organization.

“Without them, I don’t know where we’d be, because that’s how much love and support they’ve shown my family throughout the years,” McNair said.

McNair said he didn’t want people to see his injury at first, but he said having a big brother to hang out with and to count on has gotten him back to the sports he loves.

“He came and talked to me and said everything was going to be OK, and I listened. And ever since then, it’s been OK,” McNair said. “I’m playing football, hanging with friends and going places.”

McNair is headed to high school this year with a new attitude toward life.

“He’s coming out of it and coming through,” the teen’s mother, Theresa McNair, said. “It will take time. It will take time, but he’s coming through.”

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Miami police train on how to safely interact with those with disabilities

Miami police officers received special training Tuesday specifically on how to interact safely with people with disabilities.

The training consisted of mock police scenarios with participants to know what to do if they pull over someone with disabilities or if a police officer needs to speak to someone with disabilities.

The training is a way to help officers and those with developmental disabilities better understand each other.

It’s also a way to enhance awareness and communication between police officers and people with developmental disabilities in their community.

Campers at the Sandra DeLucca Developmental Center got to experience a mock police encounter with Miami police officers during the training.

“The officers will run their lights, sirens and they are going to imitate a natural situation within the community where they may need to interact with them,” explained Nadia Arguelles-Goicoechea, of the Department of Parks and Recreation Disabilities Division. 

The training is in conjunction with the Wallet Card Project, a way to help officers understand specific needs of those with disabilities.

“The card is used to quickly and succinctly let the police officers know that a person has a disability and some of the traits of their disability,” said Debbie Dietz, executive director of the Disability Independence Group.

Last year’s police-involved shooting in North Miami served an example of why more interaction is needed.

Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist for an autistic man, Arnaldo Rios, was shot in the leg after police received reports of a person with a gun.

It was later discovered that Rios was holding just a silver, toy truck.

“What it showed is what we are trying to do and have been doing is needed and valuable, and that the fear is real,” Dietz said. 

Participants also enjoyed interacting with police.

“They are nice. They are nice people. They are reactive,” one camper, Nicholas Gulliksen, 19, said. 

The goal is to get all police departments in South Florida educated on the Wallet Card Project.

Numerous cities already have officers trained, such as the Coral Gables and North Miami Beach police departments.

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School supplies needed for struggling South Florida students

The first day of the new school year is still several weeks away, but the Broward Education Foundation’s Tools For Schools effort doesn’t take a break from collecting much needed school supplies to assist underprivileged students.

Beginning July 10, the community can help by donating basic items, such as flat pink erasers, composition books, glue sticks and crayons. 

Local businesses, educational institutions, Chambers of Commerce, municipalities and civic organizations are all invited and encouraged to participate. 

The donations can mean the difference in a child’s attendance, their self-esteem and ultimately,  success in school.

The Tools for Schools Broward store is in Pompano Beach, where teachers from Broward’s Title I schools shop, free of charge, for school supplies for their economically challenged students.

“We are the year-round resource in providing school supplies to students in need,” said Shea Ciriago, executive director of Broward Education Foundation.  “The number of students that live in poverty and are even homeless in the district is staggering and it is vitally important to equip these students to succeed.”

To participate in the Tools for Schools supply drive, to have a collection bin delivered and picked up,  to partner with or learn more about Broward Education Foundation, visit browardedfoundation.org/drive or call 754-321-2034.

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Pyro technicians, firefighters prepare for Fourth of July celebrations

As people are grilling and spending time with family and friends, plenty of excitement is building for the main Independence Day event — fireworks.

Hundreds of fireworks were loaded onto several barges Monday off Virginia Key ahead of the Fourth of July, where the smallest of details matter.

“You are talking about thousands of shots, hundreds of shells,” Gary Avins, of Firepower Displays Unlimited, said. 

The setup is in anticipation of what is sure to be a lively crowd at Bayfront Park on Tuesday night for a 15-minute fireworks display that will dazzle the Miami skyline and feature a surprise.

“These are totally unmanned barges,” Avins said. “I’ve got a crew of about 10 guys working right now and this is all done remotely. There is no going on the barge whatsoever. It’s safe and that’s the best way to do it.”

Firefighters have also been out across the country, making sure people don’t get hold of illegal fireworks.
Crews swept a tent Monday in Miami Gardens off Northwest 27th Avenue to make sure only sparklers, poppers and fountain fireworks were being sold.

“We’re sweeping throughout the county to make sure these vendors are selling legal fireworks,” Ozzy Norat, of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said. “The fireworks you get in your hand are approved and safe.”

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Disabled Goodwill employees sew American flags for military veterans

While some people are scrambling around getting last-minute fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July, employees at Goodwill Industries across South Florida will be producing about 2 million flags for U.S. military veterans and the armed forces.

Employees at Goodwill work day in and day out to give about 60 disabled individuals an opportunity, hope and most of all, their independence.

Goodwill employees sew American flags each day in South Florida, producing about 500 interment flags a day, specifically to be draped over the caskets of U.S. military veterans.

Goodwill provides opportunities and special work environments where people with disabilities can learn workplace skills, gain self-confidence and build their self-esteem until they’re ready for more competitive employment in the community.

Goodwill helped more than 5,900 people with disabilities and other barriers to work in 2016 and their focus continues to be to find better opportunities for all in South Florida.

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Pyro technicians, firefighters prepare for Fourth of July celebrations

As people are grilling and spending time with family and friends, plenty of excitement is building for the main Independence Day event — fireworks.

Hundreds of fireworks were loaded onto several barges Monday off Virginia Key ahead of the Fourth of July, where the smallest of details matter.

“You are talking about thousands of shots, hundreds of shells,” Gary Avins, of Firepower Displays Unlimited, said. 

The setup is in anticipation of what is sure to be a lively crowd at Bayfront Park on Tuesday night for a 15-minute fireworks display that will dazzle the Miami skyline and feature a surprise.

“These are totally unmanned barges,” Avins said. “I’ve got a crew of about 10 guys working right now and this is all done remotely. There is no going on the barge whatsoever. It’s safe and that’s the best way to do it.”

Firefighters have also been out across the country, making sure people don’t get hold of illegal fireworks.
Crews swept a tent Monday in Miami Gardens off Northwest 27th Avenue to make sure only sparklers, poppers and fountain fireworks were being sold.

“We’re sweeping throughout the county to make sure these vendors are selling legal fireworks,” Ozzy Norat, of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said. “The fireworks you get in your hand are approved and safe.”

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