Public Invited to YCA’s 25th Anniversary Recognition Ceremony
The public is invited to attend the 25th anniversary recognition ceremony of the Youth Challenge Academy (YCA) on Thursday, March 28, 2019, from 11:30 a.m. to noon in the Senate Chambers at the State Capitol. The YCA leadership team, along with 83 of the 85 cadets who make up Class 50, will be attending the event.
With the graduation of Class 50, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Hawai‘i. The Hawai‘i YCA provides 16 to19-year-old “non-traditional at risk” youth a second chance to obtain their high school diploma and become productive citizens within our community and state.
In a rigorous five-and-a-half month program, YCA instills discipline and a sense of self-worth by using military training to significantly improve the life skills and employment potential of young people. It was founded in August 1994 and is administered by the Hawai‘i Army National Guard. It has campuses at Hilo on the Big Island and Kalaeloa on O‘ahu. Each cycle, the program accepts approximately 225 young people. Since its inception, the program has graduated over 6,800 students with 80% of them going on to earn their high school diploma.
As the Senator for the District, Sen. Mike Gabbard has a unique bond with YCA. “I speak with each class of cadets during their tour of the Capitol and prior to graduation and give them a ‘pep talk’ about the importance of serving others, instead of oneself. I live just down the street, and I have the distinct pleasure of hearing their bugle blasting at reveille very early each morning.”
Sen. Gabbard will speak with the leadership team and the cadets in the Senate Chamber Gallery, prior to Class 50 being recognized by the Hawai‘i State Senate at 11:30 a.m. Rep. Stacelynn Eli, the area representative in the House, will arrange a brief recognition of the YCA in the House Chambers, shortly after noon, when their session begins.
Over the years, Sen. Gabbard has worked closely with YCA leadership and has chosen to honor them on the Senate floor to show appreciation for all they’ve done and continue to do to help “at-risk” youth find themselves and become productive members of the community.
“Hawai‘i’s YCA program has been recognized as one of the nation’s most effective for at-risk teens, and its value never ceases to amaze me,” said Sen. Gabbard. “The YCA has been changing the lives of young men and women since 1994, leaving a positive mark on the Hawaiian community that will last for years to come.”