CAA's YouthBuild helping at-risk youth build a brighter future

GOLF MANOR, OH (FOX19) - A construction training program serving local at-risk young men and women is helping them learn job skills and become more self-sufficient.

The Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency's (CAA) YouthBuild program combines education, leadership development, counseling, construction and other training skills.

Participants of the program work toward their GED while learning job skills and serving area communities by building affordable housing.  

When Uneek Lowe's ceiling collapsed in her Golf Manor home three weeks ago, she didn't have the money to fix it. She turned to CAA's YouthBuild and says she got more than just a new ceiling.

"We connected, and I started talking with them," said Lowe.

Lowe began sharing her struggles from living with a genetic brain disorder to the trainees, and she says they began to share with her about their struggles as they repaired her ceiling.

"Just the fact that they were here to do it and our stories sort of parallel in terms of struggle and overcoming challenges, and I'm so impressed with them," Lowe explained to FOX19's Gordon Graham.

Jerome Battiste, a YouthBuild participant, says he was a high school drop out with no job and a bleak future.

"I believe I was high at-risk. What I mean by that is dabbing in the streets, hanging with the wrong people," he explained.

Battiste and fellow trainee Alex Miley earned their GED through the program. Miley says he's also learned some valuable skills.

"I know a lot more than I did before I got in the program. I've got a good head on my shoulders since I've gone through the program, and I see an actual career future ahead of myself now," said Miley.

In addition to basic construction skills, YouthBuild instructor Al Hoff says they also try to build confidence in their future endeavors.

"I would like to see them leave with a job, proud of themselves for what they've done, and they have come a long way already so pride's a big thing for them, and I like to see that in them," said Hoff.

Cincinnati's YouthBuild program is one of 273 programs across the nation.

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