Candidates compete in mental challenge for spot in program to he - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Candidates compete in mental challenge for spot in program to help at-risk youth

To get into the class, they have to pass a “mental toughness challenge.” Wednesday was the first day of tryouts. (Photo source: WLOX) To get into the class, they have to pass a “mental toughness challenge.” Wednesday was the first day of tryouts. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

More than 30 young people are hoping to get into a free program in Gulfport that offers at-risk youth job training, educational opportunities and a second chance. To get into the class, they have to pass a “mental toughness challenge.” Wednesday was the first day of tryouts.

While one person was blindfolded, the other served as a guide. Their goal was to help each other navigate around obstacles outside the Orange Grove Community Center.

"Watch the ant bed," one girl warned her blindfolded partner.

Through the activity, the young men and ladies learned about leadership, teamwork and trust.

"You have to trust and believe in yourself first," the instructor told them.

The candidates are all vying for one of 32 spots in the next YouthBuild class. The nine month program is run by International Relief and Development (IRD).

It offers low-income or at-risk youth hands-on job skills in construction, prep classes for GED or college tests, community service opportunities and leadership training.

"We're trying to better anyone that wants to come through our program. We're taking in kids 16 to 24, and all we ask is for them to come in with the attitude I want to make a change in my life. I want to better myself," said IRD Programs Director Jake Cook.

That's why the candidates have to pass the “mental toughness test” to determine if they are ready for the challenge.

"We go through those exercises, eliminate the ones that really don't want to be in the program and to see who really wants to step up in leading the program," said Cook.

"I got in it, because I feel like it can help me out. I just recently moved to Gulfport, so I feel like this could be something I could get into to get my training and expand the experience I do have in working on a construction site and working with other people," said Ladarrion Harris.

While some candidates are referred by the court system, schools or former graduates, some, like Brandon Guy, applied because of his mom.

"I'm looking for him to do something, a trade, getting something under his hands, because he's not real good with school, but he wants to do electrician work, construction and this program may help him," said Devonna Guy.

Those who make it through the eight day boot camp can get on the path to better job opportunities.

"We want them to leave having something. Whether they make our program or not, we give them a resource. We try to make them feel positive about themselves," said Cook.

"The training staff is real good. They help you out, let you know even if things get tough, they'll help you and push you through," said Harris.

You can still apply for the program at the IRD office on Three Rivers Road or at the Orange Grove Community Center on Dedeaux Road.

The next class starts Dec. 8.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.




   
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