Registration for Youth Challenge under way

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2001

PHOTO: Sarah Weber of LaPlace, a student of St. Charles Catholic High School, is the recipient of a $3,000 Marathon Oil Co./Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC scholarship for outstanding achievement. The scholarship is awarded to children of Marathon employees. She is the daughter of Marathon employee Jim J. Weber of LaPlace. Applications are being accepted for the Louisiana National Guard’s high school drop-out program, Youth Challege. This 17-month educational program, five months of which is residential, is offered at Camp Beauregard in Pineville and the Gillis W. Long Center in Carville. The program is open to 16- to 18-year-old males and females who are drug free and have no felony convictions. The course is rigorous and demanding; but it is the ideal environment for teen-agers who are committed to turning their lives around and building a successful future. Recently, Louisiana’s Youth Challenge Program was named the best all-around program in the nation by the United Services Organization, making it the top program in the United States. Louisiana’s program received high marks in each of the eight core components that make up the Youth Challenge program core curriculum. These components are lifecoping skills; educational excellence; skills and training; responsible citizenship; leadership/followership; health, hygiene and sex education; physical fitness; and community involvement projects. These components, are stressed throughout the program to encourage personal growth and development. It has been in existence in Louisiana since opening its doors at Camp Beauregard in 1993 as a pilot program. In 1997, it was granted permanent status. Early in 1999 through the persistence of Louisiana Legislators and Governor Mike Foster, the Gillis W. Long Center was opened in Carville, making Louisiana the first and only state to sponsor two Youth Challenge Programs. The program’s initial phase consists of a five-month residential phase during which cadets learn self-discipline, leadership and responsibility. Participants live and work in a controlled military environment, which encourages teamwork and personal growth. A second, 12-month post-residential phase consists of helping to enroll students in continued education, a technical school program or an entry-level job. During the post-residential phase, students are assisted by a trained and matched mentor from the community for post-graduate development. The program combines classroom work, community service and challenging individual and team activities into one unique experience revolving around the program’s eight core components. While enrolled in Youth Challenge, participants have demonstrated outstanding academic excellence, raising their grade levels on the average of three to four grades. Youth Challenge students are provided uniforms, lodging, meals and a small weekly allowance. While enrolled in the program, students work toward earning a high school equivalency diploma. Interviewing sessions are currently being conducted for the upcoming class which starts Oct. 16. Interviews will take place Monday at 9 a.m. and Aug. 22 at 8:30 a.m. at Jackson Barracks, Museum Theatre/Area C, in New Orleans; Aug. 1 and 17 at 8:30 a.m. at A/769th EN BN, 2900 S. Magnolia, in Baker; and Aug. 10 at 10 a.m. at DET 1CO C2/156th INF BN, 751 Goode St. in the Thibodaux. Late arrivals will not be admitted. Interviewing may take several hours, depending upon the number of applicants. Call (800) CAMP-KID (226-7543) for more information.