Dream | Believe | Achieve

My name is Cadet Peyton Spears and I’m from Pea Ridge Arkansas. I’m 17 years old and want to get my GED and join the Army. Since coming to Youth Challenge I’ve discovered more about myself than I knew existed. I’ve learned that it’s ok to respect authority. I’ve learned that I’m in control of my attitude and no one else. It’s been a challenging 9 weeks, but I’m going to graduate and make something of my life that I can be proud of. I’m learning about qualities that I have within me and can feel myself changing. The decisions I make today will definitely have a impact on my tomorrow. 

Can you picture a youth without a face? Can you dream of growing up with no place to call home, or imagine not having a home. Can you understand a youth that comes from a big city or from a small country town? Can you imagine growing up with 2 parents, 1 parent or with no parents? Being a YC Cadet incorporates all of these things. They may or may not have a parent. Many come with a solid home foundation. Some from poor families and some from rich or well to do families. Some have no families at all. When no family is available, they become part of what we term, “The System”. Can you imagine growing up without anyone to love you just because of who you are? All of the work, hardship, joy, happiness, love, peace, kindness and hope that goes into grooming someone that you honestly love unconditionally has been missing my entire life. Can you imagine never having someone to help you correct your mistakes because they love you and not just because you embarrassed them? Can you imagine never feeling the love from a father? Can you imagine never experiencing the warmth of a mother’s love or warm embrace? Can you imagine not having a father or mother present to give you the tools you will need to succeed in life. This is “A YC Cadet”. We come from all walks of life. We have many things in common and a lot of things not in common. We each have our own story. We have our own likes and dislikes. Youth ChalleNGe is a place that brings us all together that where we can learn and grow from each others strengths and weaknesses. Youth ChalleNGe is a home away from home. “A YC Cadet”

My name is Cadet Jordan Abernathy and I’m from Pine Bluff Arkansas. I’m 16 years old and want to complete high school and join the U.S. Air Force. Before coming to ARYC, I was staying out late, disobedient, smoking, and not being responsible. My mom wanted me to get my life back on track and suggested that I come to Youth Challenge. Since coming to Youth Challenge, I’ve discovered more about myself than I knew existed. I’ve learned that it’s ok to respect authority. I’ve learned that I’m in control of my attitude, decisions, character traits and no one else. Youth Challenge has helped me learn self discipline and not give up so easily no matter what the challenge. I’m determined to graduate and see it through to the end. The decisions I make today will definitely have an impact on my tomorrow. This is a new beginning. The best is yet to come. Thanks ARYC.

There’s tough times and bad times. At the beginning everyone got the same treatment even if you didn’t do anything wrong. When we sit in the barracks and get to talk to each other, I find out more about different cultures and why people think the way they do. In the Classroom I find out so much about things I didn’t know. I’ve learned how to be a better person and that I don’t have to rely on others to complete me. My self awareness is that I can do anything I put my mind to. When all the external speakers came in, I found out that others have gone through the same thing and made it through. I’ve wanted to quit twice but I didn’t. If I quit I have nothing to look forward to. Youth Challenge not only challenges me physically and mentally, it has given me self confidence and discipline. I’m more determined to graduate and follow my dreams. - Cadet Collins (Magnet-Cove)

I wasn’t doing well in school and going down the wrong path. I was partying and smoking marijuana. I was placed on probation for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. My probation officer told me about Youth Challenge. I came for an interview and decided it was time to turn my life around. I’m from a small town and could not separate myself from my environment. Everyday I was confronted with the same challenges. It seemed that my only escape was to leave. Since I’ve been at Youth Challenge, I know I’m changing for the better. At first it was hard. I’m not use to structure. Waking up at a specific time and following rules. I’m was use to skipping school and doing things as I wanted to do them. I’ve learned that I’m in control of my destiny and my future. During a recent pass, I asked my mom if I could utilize the bathroom. And then it hit me, “I’m at home”. “WOW”! The respect that I now have for myself allows me to respect others more. I respect my mom now, more than I ever did before. I say yes ma’am and no sir. This new path for me has not been easy and it’s only the beginning. If I can make a change of this magnitude, then anyone can change if they have their heart into it. My GPA is presently 4.0. I’m thinking about joining the Marine Corp, attending college and getting a degree in music. Since I was 6 years old I’ve been singing. I’m trying to sing the National Anthem at our graduation in June. I will succeed. Failure is not an option. - Cadet Michael Johnston (Alma)

Since I came to Youth Challenge, I’ve gained so many experiences. Especially interacting with other females. I’ve learned about other people, their backgrounds and why they are the way they are. Everyone has a story and that story is so vastly different from each other. I’ve learned to be a team player and how to get alone with others and overcome our differences. I went to the Mid-South Expo and got the opportunity to represent Youth Challenge. Everybody wanted to know about the program and I was able to articulate my experiences without being afraid to talk to strangers. My self-confidence is increasing and I’m learning how to come out of my shell and encourage others. I feel I have so much to offer. This is the beginning. - Cadet Rodriguez (Little Rock)

Success Stories