CAMP SHELBY, MS. - The National Guard Youth Challenge Program (YCP) is FOX 23's Kindness In Action recipient. Since 1994 the program has paved a new direction for youth in a unique way.
The National Guard Youth Foundation supports an evidence-based and cost-effective program that gives youth who have a challenging time in school a second chance.
Director of YCP Colonel William King IV said, "They go through a quasi-military program, we incorporate the best with the civilian education and we also corporate the best of what the military offers.”
The youth have minimal contact with their family for 22 weeks and have a rigid regimen of studying, team building activities, and volunteering 7 days a week.
At the end of the program teens receive a GED, High School diploma, 15 hours of college credit, and vocational training.
“Most of these young men and women when they get here, they have very little direction, very little structure in life. We try to provide them with that structure that they need to have in order to be successful in life" said Colonel King .
According to YCP every year in Mississippi 16,000 kids drop out of high school each year. “We hope that they get at least one grade better than what they came here with, on average they are 4 to 5 times better than when they came here" Colonel King.
Across the nation there are 40 Youth Challenge Academies. Colonel King said this program is beneficial in the community and he is proud one services the Pine Belt.
He said, “Their attitude, I just, this graduating class, they write in my yearbook, they thank me, they write on my Facebook about what they are doing now, a lot of them join the military, we give them meaning and a sense of purpose.”
The academy hopes to carry the tradition of turning lives around. YCP graduated its 46th class in June. The 47th class will start July.
According to YCP since 1994 it has graduated nearly 9,000 students.
To learn more about YCP you can click here.