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The first intake of the Belize Youth Challenge

Twenty two young men became the first intake to successfully complete the Belize Youth Challenge. The young men were recognized during a passing out ceremony this morning at the ITVET compound in Belize City. The Belize Youth Challenge Program is an alternative program for males 15-17 years who are at-risk of coming in contact with the law and/or have behavioral problems. Hipolito Novelo has the story.

Hipolito Novelo: Since October 2017 the behavior of these young men between the ages of 15 and 17 was being rigorously altered for the better. The successful 22 are now seen as contributing members of society. They are the first group of Cadets to complete the Belize Youth Challenge, they are known as intake number 1.

Honorable John Saldivar Minister of National Security: You brave and young graduates will always be able to say we were the first, so I have no doubt that whatever pride I feel today is greatly out matched by the pride that you the graduating class of cadets must have in yourselves and indeed the pride of you family and friends that they must have in you. Nine months ago you made a fateful decision to accept the challenge of this program and you have surely encountered and overcome many challenges to be here at this ceremony. Graduating Cadets I applaud you for your determination, for making a conscious decision to not just meet the challenges of the past year but to rise far above them.

Hipolito Novelo: Cadet Carl Tillet and his colleges are now familiar with discipline, leadership and teamwork, they engage in academic and vocational classes. They were kept physically fit through military drills and training.

Cadet Carl Tillet: The challenge wasn’t easy but then it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was easy. Don’t get me wrong sometimes we all feel like giving up but we never gave into the depths of failure, if there is one thing learned soundly is to never underestimate yourself, we all have perseverance genetically program from that moment to strive.

Hipolito Novelo: Through the program the Cadets literacy skills has improved, four of the Cadets who sat the primary school examination were awarded High School scholarships, two were awarded scholarships to attend Jr. College, two cadets have been accepted to the Belize Defense Force Battalion while for while be pursuing vocational skills, the scholarships came courtesy of the Ministry of Human Development social transformation and poverty alleviation.

Honorable Anthony Martinez Minister of Human Development: You had the willpower to endure the rigorous physical training and education opportunities that were a part of this program. Think about it you are all elite few who have achieved something positive for yourself, I am sure that you all know many people your age who are still doing some of the things that you were doing before you entered the Belize Youth Challenge Program, you have come this far, you have let go of the negative thing that used to hold you back, this program has broken you down, then built you back up and helped you to redesign a new path, this program has helped to recognize your strengths, your potential, who you really are, you have learned a lot about yourself over these past few months and you now know what you can endure.

Hipolito Novelo: Reporting for Love News Hipolito Novelo.

The Belize Youth Challenge was introduced in 2017 as a revision and upgrade of the National Youth Cadet Service Corps. It is jointly managed by the Belize Defence Force and the Community Rehabilitation Department.