Youth Challenge Program cadets were treated to an outdoor movie and snacks in appreciation for all their hard work and community service they provide around Minden and Webster Parish.
Chris Broussard, co-founder of Cultural Crossroads, says the event was to show them how much the community appreciates them for their help in all the events at The Farm.
“We are doing this because it is long overdue,” Broussard said. “The service these young teens give to the community is more than just time and talent. It is an investment, in us and in themselves. We can have an appreciation day every month and never be able to give them what they have given us this past decade. We love them and appreciate them and we hope they feel it.”
Antonio Brossette, 16, YCP cadet from Kenner, says the program has turned his life around and he has set goals for himself. Providing community service is just one component of the year-long program, but it has taught him respect for himself and others around him.
“Community service is really fun,” he said. “You learn many things and you meet a lot of great people. It teaches you a lot of stuff. I’ve learned how to cope with people in the outside world while maintaining a great bearing on YCP standards, and seeing what other people go through and how to be thankful that sometimes I’m not in their condition – and seeing how what they go through can make you a stronger person.”
He says he’s grown up quite a bit in the last four months in the program. The biggest lesson he’s learned, he says, is making sure he’s “squared away with himself.”
“It’s extremely emotional being away from your family for so long, if you’ve never done it before,” he said. “But once you get back to them, you realize what you’ve been through, and it makes you a stronger person, builds great character. And it provides a mental image of what you can do and what you can’t do.”
Brossette says he loves football and wants to major in education when he goes to college so he can become a football coach.
Shawn Hatcher, activities director for YCP, says the cadets are required to perform 40 hours of community service as part of the eight core components of the program.
“We try to instill a value of just that – giving back to the community,” Hatcher said. “You need to feel good about yourself and give back to the community that you live in. That’s part of being a productive citizen in your community and your country.”
YCP sets high standards for these teens through the eight core components – life coping skills, educational excellence, skills and training (basics of construction jobs), responsible citizenship, leadership/followership, hygiene and sex education, physical fitness and community service.
Cadets provide all types of community service like set up and break down at festival events, putting out flags during patriotic holidays, help with set up of Christmas decorations, some yard work, and many other activities.
A few organizations in which the cadets have provided community service include St. Rest Baptist Church’s food bank, Antioch Baptist Church, Dixie Inn, Wayne Avery, the Minden Junior Service League, the Minden Civitans Club, the Joe LeBlanc Food Pantry, the City of Minden, the Town of Springhill, Nicole Frazier, Springhill councilwoman, the Webster Parish Police Jury, Knights of Columbus on Buncombe Road in Shreveport, the Webster Council on Aging, and the Village of Heflin and Town of Sarepta.
Hatcher says they are always looking for more ways to provide community service. For any organization wishing to provide the cadets with a way to give back, call Hatcher at 318-382-4116.