BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Hundreds of people gathered for the Louisiana National Guard's Youth Challenge Program graduation.
The ceremony was held at Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, La. 254 at-risk teens from all over Louisiana completed the 5 ½ month long program, which took base in Carville, La. The goal is to get troubled teens back on track using strict military discipline. Austin Church is from Walker, La and he graduated today. He said before the program his life was taking a wrong turn.
"I was at risk without be able to finish high school," said Church. "I moved around a lot and I ended up failing two classes. I turned 18 in February so they said I was too old and didn't have enough credits. So, they said I wasn't going to finish high school," he continued.
He gave the program a shot, not knowing what to expect. In return he learned lessons he'll never forget.
"You learn how to focus on what's more important. That way you do what you need to do, so you can get it out of the way," he said. "Also, you learn how to reflect and sit back and think about what the consequences are."
Now, he and his classmates are ready to re-enter the real world, with a plan in hand.
Church is planning on enrolling in ITT Technical Institute.