New YCP cadets reunited with family, after 12 weeks apart

CAMP BEAUREGARD, La. (KALB) - A new group of Youth Challenge Program cadets marched into family day on Sunday.

But, they aren't the same kids mom and dad dropped off 12 weeks ago. The Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program, a 22-week course, takes 16 to 18-year-olds who may be on a bad path and helps them change their futures.

"What is exciting about every family day is the parents get to see a changed youth," said YCP Program Director CW4 Wade Furniss.

Cadets come to the program from all walks of life, and are eager for a second chance.

"Honestly, I wanted the military structure lifestyle," said Cadet Derrik Mott.

"My grandmother has Parkinson's Disease and my grandpa died last year," said Cadet Devontrane Pool. "So, I'm here for her. I'm here for myself."

Their every step is calculated, every command is followed.

CW4 Furniss said the military style alternative education program gives them the tools they need to be a leader.

"Learning how to deal with life coping skills, garnering better educational excellence," CW4 Furniss said. "They have really been able to grow exponentially."

After three months apart cadets got the hugs they've been waiting for. Many said the time away has been tough.

'It's very emotional, like I want to cry right now," Cadet Mott said.

But, they'd do it all over again.

"At first it was hard, but I started coming to my senses and realizing they are here to help me," Cadet Pool said.

Cadets still have another 12 weeks to go.

"We miss his smile," said parent Mandy Simoneaux. "He is so funny and he keeps our family on our toes. Our life has definitely had a void without him."

But, it's all uphill from here.

"There is still more to learn, but they are in that part now to where they know the standard," CW4 Furniss said. "They know what its expected and now we are just going to grow upon that."

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