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YouthBuild program builds more than houses

GRANDVIEW - Why would a teenage mom of a 4-year-old boy want to get up at 5 a.m. each day to learn how to use a hand saw? Ask Gisel Sandoval, a 2013 graduate of YouthBuild, who is currently working with Habitat for Humanity on a Granger construction site. The Grandview woman is one of 27 Lower Valley individuals taking part in a program that helps at-risk young people gain new opportunities starting with the construction of a house. Learning to use the proper tools is the first step. "I got to learn something new every day," the young woman told the Grandview School Board Monday night. Sandoval and fellow YouthBuild participant Gerardo Martinez, also of Grandview, are recent graduates of YouthBuild, a Department of Labor project aimed at giving young people vocational skills, but also life skills applicable to the employment world. The students, who also attend Grandview's Compass High School, spent the past seven months learning how to build a house from the foundation up, said Anthony Peterson, YouthBuild coordinator Sandoval described to the school board how she got up at 5 every morning to get a ride to the work site. She noted it wasn't always easy as some days her son, Yandel, was sick or she would have challenges with child care. "I just kept thinking of how this program could help me provide a better life for my little boy," Sandoval said. YouthBuild is an employment-based program for individuals, ages 16-24, who need additional support to earn their diplomas, and to understand the world of work, said Peterson. Martinez said he liked having the opportunity to learn how to get mentally tough, also a part of the YouthBuild program. "But I don't think I've decided what I want to do, yet. I'd like to try culinary arts," Martinez said. Peterson said in addition to getting the participants onto the work sites, they are given opportunities to tour other work sites, technical schools, and attend leadership and career development classes.

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