Local organization working to help teens get back on track

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COLUMBIA - Young students looking to get their GED and better their future spent the day in a classroom Monday morning.  Opportunities for anyone ages 18 to 24 are available in the YouthBuild program by Job Point, which gives individuals an education and work experience.

Participants go through six to nine months of classes as well as working at a construction site in Columbia.  Students build single family style homes for low-income families in Columbia's First Ward and work on local bridge and road construction projects.

Students in construction learn skills they can carry with them wherever they go in the future.  While in the classroom students are taught in different subjects in order to receive their GED or high school diploma.

The Director of YouthBuild Reentry and Housing Gary Taylor said the program is about presentation and working with students to achieve the goals in life they want to achieve.

"We want to make leaders of the individuals participating in our program," said Taylor.

The program works to teach students how to be leaders by making good choices and working to become public speakers.  

"We hear a lot of people talking about what the youth need as we look at the events in Baltimore, individuals I hear, talking heads, on television asking what the youth need," Taylor said.  "My question is has anybody asked them?"

The YouthBuild program gives students the help to develop plans and teaches them to ask for assistance.

YouthBuild started in Columbia in 2003 with a grant from the United States Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, and was renewed in 2011.  Taylor said more than 350 students have graduated and moved on from the program. 

Job Point runs the YouthBuild program three to four times a year, and aims to have around thirty students. The next session begins on Monday, May 11th for potential students to come and learn more about YouthBuild.