Top 5 myths about the Kentucky National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program

It’s not too late to sign up for the 2013 first semester!

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Cadets from the Appalachian ChalleNGe academy in Harlan, Ky., on a tour of the Kentucky state capitol building. (photo by Will Daniels, Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy)

Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

FRANKFORT, Ky. — One of the best kept secrets about the Kentucky National Guard is its Youth ChalleNGe program.  Jointly funded between the federal and state governments, Youth ChalleNGe is designed to help at-risk youth get a jump start on life.

There are now two academies in Kentucky — the Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy is located at Fort Knox and the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy is in Harlan. The 22-week curriculum covers extensive academic studies geared toward completing a high school diploma as well as physical fitness, leadership and community awareness projects.

The program has been around for nearly 20 years.

The newest of the two academies, Harlan, just held its first graduation honoring 60 cadets who successfully completed the program.

More than 100,000 cadets have graduated from the program nation-wide.

Appalachian ChalleNGe academy

In addition to intense academic studies, ChalleNGe Academy cadet work to improve their physical fitness, teamwork and leadership skills. (photo by Will Daniels, Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy)

Both academies are currently taking applications for next semester, by the way.  If you are the parent of a young person who is in need or you know someone who you think needs help, this program just may be the answer.

Following are the top five myths and facts to help you better understand what the ChalleNGe program is all about.

MYTH #1. The ChalleNGe Program is another juvenile detention center for teenagers who are troublemakers.

FACT: The ChalleNGe Program is a voluntary program for families needing direction for at-risk teenagers who have the desire to complete their high school education or earn a GED, and to learn life skills to enhance their future.

MYTH #2. Most participants are court ordered to attend the ChalleNGe Program.

FACT:  The ChalleNGe Program is a voluntary program for all participants.

MYTH #3. The ChalleNGe Program is 22 weeks of discipline and military training.

FACT:   The ChalleNGe Program earns participating Cadets more than discipline and structure. Over the course of the 22 week residential phase, Cadets work daily towards earning a GED or earning credits to return and rejoin their high school class. They also complete a minimum of 40 hours of community service, and take part in many local events.

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Kentucky’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini meets with members of the Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy during a ceremony marking the National Guard’s 376th birthday at Fort Knox, Ky., Dec. 13, 2012. (KYNG photo by Sgt. Scott Raymond)

MYTH #4. Participants must be of a qualifying low income level to attend the ChalleNGe Program.

FACT:  Acceptance to the ChalleNGe Program is open to all teenagers ages 16-18 who are educationally at risk, regardless of income level. The program is also of no cost to participants.

MYTH #5. Participants graduate from the ChalleNGe Program to enter into the military.

FACT:  Participants graduate from the ChalleNGe Program to enter into many types of placement – there is no requirement to enter into the military upon graduating. Many cadets enter into college, gain full-time employment, or enroll back into their high schools to complete their high school diploma.

To find out more about the Kentucky Youth ChalleNGe program call 1-877-KYYOUTH (877-599-6884)

Click here to contact the Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy at Fort Knox, Ky.

Click here to contact the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy at Harlan, Ky.

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