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2nd Intake of Belize Youth Challenge

The Second cohort of the Belize Youth Challenge (BYC) passed out today. The uniformed cadets were in great form as they were presented to their parents and family in front of officials from both Ministries of National Security and Human Development. The BYC, formerly the National Youth Cadet Service Corp was designed to intervene and reclaim the lives of at risk youths to produce graduates with the values, skills, and self-discipline to succeed as adults. Love News attended the passing out ceremony for the proud graduates.

Jose Sanchez: “The second installment of the Belize Youth Challenge Passing Out Ceremony occurred today at the ITVETT compound in Belize City. The collaborative effort to bring discipline into the lives of several dozen boys came from the Ministry of Human Development and the Ministry of National Security.”

Captain Ivan Locario – Belize Defense Force: “Today we showcase our Cadets, those who have been through ten months of developmental training. They now have a better understanding of how to make wiser decisions, their performance and character has improved. Some of the Cadets present here today are looking forward to joining the ranks of the Belize Defense Force come this October. Some will go back to school and others are looking forward to being employed. Remember the harder you work for something the better it will feel when you achieve it.”

Anthony Castillo – Commandant, BYC: “We at the Belize Youth Challenge continue to make adjustments and modifications to this sister program so as to better adapt to the Belizean reality. The age range of this program stands at ages fifteen to seventeen. Both the Ministry of Human Development and National Defence sees it fit and appropriate to focus on this age group using the following rationale. Children should remain in primary school until the age of fourteen, at age eighteen, the youth is considered an adult hence is capable of joining the workforce. This program uses strong military-style discipline to inculcate rigor and stamina into the formation of the youth.

Jose Sanchez: “The cadets worked very hard for over ten months, they received awards and commendations from the Minister of State and National Security Elodio Aragon.

Minister of National Security – Elodio Aragon: “I want to thank you for making the decision one year ago to accept the challenge of this program and you have surely encountered and overcome many challenges to be here at this ceremony if not you wouldn’t have been here. Cadets, I applaud you for your determination for making a conscious decision to not just meet the challenges over the last year but to rise above them. We note that last year there were twenty-two successful candidates and now we have thirty-one. I also must acknowledge the continued stalwart state partnership that we enjoy with the Louisiana National Guard. This very successful Youth Challenge Program is a result of the continued support that they gave us through their local coordination of the US Embassy, especially the Military Liaison Office.”

Jose Sanchez: “Thirty-nine cadets started the program which ended with thirty-one graduates including Sylvester Ico Jr.”

Sylvester Ico Jr – Cadet BYC.: “I feel like I have learned so much, the majority of us made it here for graduation. All thirty-one of us standing a step further without anyone to guide us anymore. I feel that I have larger expanded my skills both academically and disciplinary. I stand prepared to re-enter society as a changed adolescent and driven student equipped to continue my journey to adulthood. For this I remain thankful to every BDF teacher or staff that I have been blessed to work with this past ten months.”

Angel Campos – Minister of State, Minister of Human Development: “This does not stop here, there will be bumps on your path but with your new found skills and support it is my sincere wish like Nelson Mandela that your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears. It is often said that our children are our future and that is a true statement. A country cannot possibly sustain its development without its youths. Belize is a country of youth and so you will represent our national hopes and dreams.”

Jose Sanchez for Love News.

The cadets started their journey away from home in August, 2018.