Vidalia to start Youth Build program

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 19, 2010

VIDALIA — A new program aimed at helping area teens is in the works in the City of Vidalia.

The Vidalia Board of Aldermen recently voted to approve City Manager Ken Walker to apply for a grant to start a Youth Build program in the parish.

“Natchez currently has the program, and we want one in the parish,” he said.

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Walker said the program is for high school dropouts, and would consist of taking classes to help students pass the GED while also giving them training in trade positions.

“They would go to class three days a week and be trained in a trade for two,” he said. “They can get a GED and receive a certificate of apprenticeship in a trade.”

Walker said there will be more than plumbing, carpeting and electrical trades to learn.

“We are also looking at adding solar work to the trades,” he said. “If we can get solar licensing it would teach people how to install solar hot water heaters in people’s homes.”

Walker said the program will help benefit the area in a number of ways.

“We are assisting young people in getting their GED and we are giving them skills to have a job and be a productive member of society,” he said. “We are teaching them life skills on how to survive.”

Life skills such as how to make a budget and how to find a place to live are also parts of the Youth Build program, Walker said.

Working with the community is another thing Walker said the new program would bring.

“The students are going to be working on projects throughout the community while they are being trained,” he said. “It allows the students a chance to give back to the community.”

Walker said Fertile Ground, Inc. of Louisiana, will also be helping out with the Youth Build program.

“We are excited to be working with them,” he said. “They have been a great asset to the area, and are continuing to help through Youth Build.”

Walker said the grant will be for approximately $400,000 to $500,000 a year for three years, and the application for turning it in is Dec. 3

“There is a six month evaluation period, so we should get the results back in June,” he said.

Walker said if the city is awarded the grant, they have six months to get the program started.

“If it all works out, we can have the program ready by this time next year,” he said.