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Sparta to open at-risk youth program

Sparta to open at-risk youth program

SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT) - The Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce has more than just the business community on its mind.

Over the last year, the organization has been working to start The Transition Program. It's a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Challenge Academy, The Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations.

The program is offering recently graduated cadets from the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy an opportunity to transition out of the academy and into the workforce.

The goal is to help at-risk youth who typically attend the the Challenge Academy because of bad habits and tough life experiences. Program leaders say transitioning out of the program, often times leaves the youth fearful of what's next. But that will soon change.

"So essentially offering them an opportunity to rather than going back to environments that they view as unfavorable, the opportunity to stay closer, to continue to stay connected with the Challenge Academy and in a community that they've been serving for the last five and a half months," said Kristi Paulsen, a member of The Transition Program committee.

Director of the Wisconsin Challenge Academy says The Transition Program is the right next step for cadets who have already been preparing for life after the academy.

"The cadets have a responsibility to put a five step plan together that talks about what their initial, their intermediate and their long term goals are, and then put an action plan together of how they're gonna get there," said Kevin Greenwood.

Greenwood said those goals will be easier to meet, when the opportunity is already there.

"Part of The Transition Program is to offer our cadets the opportunity or an option for when they graduate from the program," he said.

The Transition Program will officially begin June of 2017 and plans to start with six graduated cadets.

The Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce invested 2,000 dollars to help start the program.

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