‘It changed my life,’ Camden native encourages at-risk youth to apply to free workforce & mentoring program

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Ark. KTVE/KARD– There is a program hoping to help at risk teens and young adults. The program is under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

It gives youth who are currently not enrolled in high school or college and opportunity to still thrive out of their current circumstances.

“This isn’t a summer program. We will run this all year around. We’re just looking for some people to get on this program here in the next couple of weeks and to get their applications complete because we have employers that are waiting for them,” Reese Broadnax said. “A lot of the employers are highly motivated to see them succeed.”

This program directly connects these teens and young adults to jobs of their career interest. It’s a paid experience that allow participants to hone in their skills and figure out their future careers.

“That program definitely changed my life. I have no doubt about it,” Deques McClain said. “It gave me guardian angels. People who look out for me still to this day and make sure I’m on the path to success .”

McClain, 23, is a 7th grade science teacher for the Shelby County School District in Memphis. The Camden Native was raised in a single parent household with six other sibilings.

McClain says he wasn’t a child that got into much trouble but he dealt with childhood trauma that required him to need a lot of healing.

He found that therapy through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act Youth Program which helped connect him to a job working at a radio station and then later at a hospital.

“It gave me guardian angels, people who look out for me and still to this day make sure that I’m on the path to success,” McClain said.

He knows how easy it is to fall into temptation and how can destructive it can be to have a negative mentality. Though, for anyone that may have lost hope in themselves and their situation, McClain encourages others to know that there is a way out.

“We are all kids with dreams. There is nothing that can stop you but yourself. Join the program. I guarantee you it’s worth it,” he said.

With crime among teens continuing to be a problem for cities, Broadnax and McClain both agree that the program is a positive outlet that should encourage participants to stay on the right track.

“When you work 40 hours, you get home and you don’t have time to get in trouble. There is more of an incentive to succeed than to fail. A person can be at any stage of the criminal justice process. They could have been in trouble,” Broadnax said.

The application process will be easier if applicants gather all necessary documents including a driver’s license, birth certificate and ID (if you have one) in addition to other documentation.

You can pick up an application at city hall and workforce center or you can call the office and a copy of the application can be emailed to you.

You can also contact the office 870-234-4030 or contact Reese Broadnax directly at 870-837-6911.

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