Florida Youth ChalleNGe program to graduate 173 teens Saturday

Written by  //  December 8, 2011  //  Feature Stories

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Dec. 8, 2011) — More than 170 cadets will graduate from the Florida Youth ChalleNGe Academy this weekend as part of the program’s 21st class.

Florida Youth ChalleNGe cadets. Photo by Debra Cox

The 173 graduates of the program – which is designed to lead, train and mentor at-risk youth – will graduate during a military ceremony in Orange Park on Saturday. 

Guest speaker for Saturday’s event is David Wilkins, Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

“The Florida Youth ChalleNGe Academy continues to evolve into one of the premier At-Risk program in the nation,” said Florida Youth ChalleNGe Deputy Director James Ransom. “With the National Guard Bureau increasing our target graduation per class from 125 to 150 Cadets, we were able to serve our highest number of cadets yet as our current class will graduate with 173 cadets.” 

Florida’s Youth ChalleNGe Academy is operated by the Florida Department of Military Affairs and the Florida National Guard. Designed on a military model, 16- to 19-year-old high school dropouts encounter a rigorous five-and-a-half month residential phase. 

The Academy is geared toward promoting adult responsibilities, values and basic lifestyle changes. Each youth experiences a demanding, highly regimented, motivational climate covering the components of academic excellence, community service, job skills, leadership and physical fitness.  

Since Florida’s program began in 2001, 2,728 cadets from 57 counties have graduated from the residential phase of the program. 

Upon graduation from the in-residence phase, each student is assigned a mentor who provides personal guidance and support.  In order to successfully complete the program, all students are required to either pursue higher education or gain full-time employment. For additional information contact the academy at (904) 682-4000 or visit www.ngycp.org/FL

Graduating cadets are from the following counties: Alachua (3); Baker (2); Bradford (1);  Brevard (2); Broward (8); Charlotte (1); Clay (20); Columbia (1); Dade (4); Dixie (1); Duval (57); Escambia (2); Flagler (1); Gadsden (1); Hernando (1); Hillsborough (2); Jefferson (1); Lake (3); Monroe (2); Nassau (1); Okaloosa (2); Orange (13); Osceola (1); Palm Beach (6); Pasco (6); Polk (2); Putnam (1); Sarasota (1); Seminole (3); St. Johns (6); Sumter (2); Union (1); and Volusia (15).