Rebuilding Twofold For New Jersey Youth Group - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Rebuilding Twofold For New Jersey Youth Group

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- One organization is giving some at risk students a second chance. More than a dozen teens from New Jersey are spending the week on the Coast to learn some valuable life skills.

"I feel behind track because of my attendance in school and stuff, and I was cutting class. And I was just caught up with the wrong people," says Bessie Williams, one of the students working with Isles' YouthBuild.

Williams says in her neighborhood, it is difficult to succeed.

"There are a lot of kids that don't go to school. A lot of them are staying back and repeating the same grade like three times," Williams said.

Now, the 18-year-old has a new circle of friends with a similar goal: To reshape their lives by helping others, and they are doing it by rebuilding a South Mississippi home.

"Most of our at-risk youth, they need the opportunities and once they get those opportunities, they can really flourish," said Dan Leibowitz, the program coordinator with Isles' YouthBuild Institute.

The organization, funded by Americorps, gives students a second chance.

"One issue that we see is that lots of people look at at-risk youth as more of a problem than a solution, and when given these opportunities, our trainees see that they are assets to their communities," Leibowitz said.

Fourteen students made the trip from Trenton, New Jersey, to the coast. While many of them have never been to South Mississippi, they are all excited about getting one more person back into their home.

"I feel like I'm doing something good for somebody that I don't even know, and one day somebody is going to do something nice for me. Like the program, they are doing something good for me," said Lewis Williams.

The students are helping rebuild a home near the Soria City community. They will work on the house over the next five days.

By Elise Roberts

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