New program helping young people learn life, job skills

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

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

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

The money is allowing the agency to offer a new programcalled YouthBuild, which is reserved for out-of-school, low-income youth ages16 to 24.

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

The YouthBuild program provides an alternative education andemployment pathway that enables participants to first obtain a high schooldiploma or GED.

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

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

"[For example] if the individual wanted to be in the healthindustry, we're going to contact the White River Medical Center to see if theindividual 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 trainingin the construction field. Organizers tout this training as way to earn industry-recognizedcredentials that can lead to a career.

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

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

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

To register or find out more information, call the NADC at870-793-5765.

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