News: Indiana twenty-fifth State to offer Youth Challenge Program through Guard
Story by Maj. Micheal Brady
CAMP ATTERBURY, Edinburgh, Ind. -- Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Indiana National Guard Adjutant General, R. Martin Umbarger cut the ribbon to open the state's newest youth facility to the applause from local civic leaders, community members, and National Guard alumni from across the state. The Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy is a National Guard program for at-risk teens that have left high school before graduation.
Daniels expressed concern about young Hoosiers that leave school with no appreciable skills in an economy that increasingly requires advanced training.
"I love the fact that America is the land of second chances," said Daniels. "We cannot afford to not make these kinds of opportunities available. This state needs young people."
Prior to the ceremony Daniels and Umbarger met with several students who have already been accepted to the academy.
"Everyone comes to the Y in the road, a time to make a decision," Umbarger told the students. "We're proud you made this one, and we'll be right there with you."
The academy's cadre is primarily prior or current military personnel, and the academy director, Col. (ret.) Wayne Hill, was until recently Umbarger's chief of staff.
Hill said that Indiana has long anticipated the program, first established by the National Guard in 1994, and pointed to the success of graduates in other states.
Hill said there have been more than 70,000 cadets enrolled in the program nationally since its inception, and with the addition of a follow-up year-long post-residential mentoring program, has become a model for success.
"The mentoring program is what sets the Hoosier Youth Challenge apart," said Hill. "The cadre and mentors are a reflection of the Indiana National Guard's tradition of service to the state of Indiana."
As Gov. Daniels prepared to leave the meeting he had one last message for the cadets:
"My money's on you," said Daniels. "I hope you all thrive and I think you made a great choice."
The academy will continue to accept applications on an ongoing basis even though the first cadets will report to the facility July 8.