Officially, Mike Platt is recreation specialist for the residential treatment program at Daniel, Florida’s oldest child-service nonprofit agency. But really, he’s the director of fun. In his free time, you might find him walking the dogs, jogging or on the water in a kayak using skills developed through Scouting.
What can you share about your background?
I was born in New York and raised in New Jersey. I graduated from Christian Brothers Academy. During my years at CBA, I was on the varsity wrestling team.
I am an Eagle Scout (Double Bronze Palm) and a member of the Order of the Arrow, receiving the Vigil Honor – the highest honor the Order of the Arrow can bestow upon its members for service to lodge, council and scouting.
I then attended Jacksonville University, where I served as the student disciplinary chairman as well as a resident assistant. I was inducted into the Green Key Society, which recognizes campus leaders. I earned my Bachelor of Science in sociology with a minor in psychology.
Before coming to Daniel, I was an assistant field sports director (teaching archery, personal fitness and fishing merit badges) and an assistant aquatic director for the Boy Scouts of America (teaching the BSA Lifeguard program, lifesaving, swimming, rowing, canoeing and small boat sailing merit badges).
Briefly describe what Daniel is.
Daniel is the oldest childcare agency in Florida, established in 1884 with the mission of improving the lives of children and families.
Daniel began as an orphanage, but over the past 135 years, we’ve grown into so much more. We currently offer a diverse range of programs that serve around 3,500 children and families each day. I work for the residential treatment program, which provides children exhibiting the most severe symptoms of mental and emotional distress with intensive residential treatment over four- to six-month periods.
How did you come to work at Daniel?
I heard about Daniel through the classified section of the newspaper 30 years ago. The organization had placed an ad looking for child care workers. In 1989, I attended a group interview and was selected for the position.
Tell us about your current role at Daniel.
My current role at Daniel is staff trainer and recreation specialist – also known as the director of fun! I work with a multidisciplinary team, assisting youth and families with meeting their treatment goals. I help clients come to know their self worth by improving their self esteem and building character while teaching them ego enhancing therapeutic activities, self control, coping and social skills. I also work with volunteers and partners across our community that provide special events, play days and service projects for the agency.
Additionally, I instruct Daniel staff for certification in adult and pediatric first aid/CPR, Physical Crisis Intervention under Crisis Prevention Institute guidelines. I guide therapeutic recreation and pool training for staff and youth, and also work to certify others as Ukeru instructors, which offers a safe, comforting and restraint-free approach to crisis management.
I was recently inducted as a Meritorious Instructor in the CPI Hall of Merit for demonstrating training excellence and commitment to the training process, as well as advancing the philosophy of care, welfare, safety and security.
Where did you meet your wife?
I met my wife, Lisa, at Daniel in 1993. She also was a child care worker and worked as a case manager and an adoption information specialist as well.
What do you enjoy most about living in St. Johns County?
I love the great outdoors, the beaches and the fact that there is plenty of room for my two dogs to run around. I also enjoy the kind people and my neighborhood.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy jogging (5K-15K runs), swimming, kayaking and playing with my fur babies (two dogs and two cats). I also like to spend time helping others in the community, and hearing and sharing jokes.
What is the last bucket list item you crossed off? The last bucket list item I crossed off was going on a cruise to Labadie, Haiti, Cozumel, Mexico and Jamaica.