New program helping young people learn life, job skills - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

New program helping young people learn life, job skills

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BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Young people drop out of school by the millions each year, only to learn they can earn little without a diploma.

A local agency, however, is now offering them a different way to achieve their goals.   

The Department of Labor gave a grant in November worth more than $1 million to the NADC, or the Northcentral Arkansas Development Council in Batesville.

The money is allowing the agency to offer a new program called YouthBuild, which is reserved for out-of-school, low-income youth ages 16 to 24.

"If you want to start building your community, you've got to start with your youth first," said NADC Executive Director Brad Cummings, "and so that's why we thought this would be a great program for us."

The YouthBuild program provides an alternative education and employment pathway that enables participants to first obtain a high school diploma or GED.

"I think that [the participants] have seen what the workforce offers them without a GED or without a diploma," Cummings said, "and this gives them an avenue by which to achieve these goals."

The NADC will select a class of about 25 participants for the 36-month program after they pass a two-week training period called "mental toughness." During that time, they will receive physical training, attend classes on topics like financial management and plan out their future goals.

"[For example] if the individual wanted to be in the health industry, we're going to contact the White River Medical Center to see if the individual might be able to shadow a nurse or someone for a few days," he said.

They will also receive a stipend and get hands-on training in the construction field. Organizers tout this training as way to earn industry-recognized credentials that can lead to a career.

These skills will also prove beneficial when the participants help build a home for Habitat for Humanity as part of the program's curriculum.

"I think that gives individuals some self-worth and understanding just what giving back really means," Cummings said.

The NADC is currently looking for young people to begin the first "mental toughness" training session that starts March 11.

To register or find out more information, call the NADC at 870-793-5765.

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