Kalaeloa Youth Challenge Academy

Amongst our many organization community partners is the Kalaeloa Youth Challenge Academy.  They participated in our October 28 monthly community workday.  The Kalaeloa Youth Challenge is part of a statewide Hawaii Youth Challenge with a mission of training young men and women 16 to 18 years old who have dropped out of high school.  During their time they learn to get their GED and become responsible and hardworking community members. This award-winning program has been recognized as one of the nation’s most effective and cost- efficient programs for targeting youth who are at the greatest risk for substance abuse, teen pregnancy, delinquency, and criminal activity.

The length of the program is 6 months to graduation.  During their time they learn about responsible leadership and when it is time to follow.  They learn all about proper health and how to take care of oneself.  The importance of job skills and how to prepare for a job interview and proper dress for the interview.  Cadets are trained to be career equipped, developing basic and relevant skills necessary to conduct job searches as their position in the community changes. They learn to outline their goals, complete a written resume, fill out employment applications, demonstrate an understanding of the importance of work ethics, and complete a mock interview. They explore knowledge and skills required to pursue future educational opportunities, to include educational alternatives, institutions and financial aid. Also complete the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test and participate in a vocational interpretation.

Cadets develop a better understanding of the forces that work to make a community strong and supportive of its members, as well as the forces that work to disintegrate a community. Cultural awareness, violence prevention, promoting justice, and the honor code are discussed in this area.

Cadets are trained to ‘Give Back’ to their Communities.  Cadets develop an understanding of the benefits gained through volunteering at community projects and agencies. Cadets volunteer many hours performing services for agencies such as the American Red Cross, Adopt-a-Highway, and others to include the Kalaeloa Heritage Park. Certificates and awards are given to cadets for their participation.

Cadets are trained to be Leaders in leadership and fellowership capacities.  Cadets gain the skills necessary to be a good follower, a valued member of society, and gains exposure to the traits of good leaders so they may be prepared to lead when the opportunity arrives. Leadership Positions, Color Guard, Drill and Ceremony, and Character Development are part of this curriculum.

Cadets are trained to handle the challenges and blessings of life.   Cadets explore their value structure and come to a better understanding of the attitudes, needs and desires that motivate them as individuals, members of the Academy and as citizens. They learn to understand personal finance by demonstrating basic banking skills, identify methods of obtaining and managing good credit, and demonstrate how to prepare and manage a personal budget. Recognize various emotions and stressors, identify coping strategies, and conflict resolution strategies. They learn the importance of setting and achieving goals. Other classes and workshops include stress management, substance abuse, decision making, labeling, parenting skills, domestic violence, and sexual abstinence.

Cadets are trained to be physically healthy.  Cadets participate in an intense physical fitness training program built upon the Presidential Challenge, encouraging a lifelong commitment to physical, mental and emotional well-being. Cadets must show improvement during the five- month residential program. Activities include, but are not limited to military style PT, running, and organized sports.

This who they are.  The young men and women of the Kalaeloa Youth Challenge.  I know them.  They recently came to the Kalaeloa Heritage Park and donated their time carrying cut kiawe, halekoa and green waste out of the park.  A big mahalo nui to them.

By Shad Kane

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