2011 Red Wagon Award
The Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy, West Virginia, is the recipient of the 7th annual Governor's Red Wagon Award.
The West Virginia Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy mission is to train and mentor selected at-risk youth to become contributing members of society using the 8 Core Components in a quasi-military environment during a 22-week residential and one year follow-up Post-Residential program. The Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy began in 1993, located at Camp Dawson near Kingwood, the Academy addresses the “whole person” when planning the training day. From early morning physical training and a full class day to Youth Fellowship (church services) and Service to Community Projects, over 300 Cadets yearly experience a full 16 hours of organized activity, seven days a week.
The Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy strives to fulfill all Five Promises of America’s Promise. With a staff of 60, Caring Adults surround the students with positive role models: Cadet Families, program staff and volunteer Mentors.
As part of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program which operates 33 programs across the nation, the West Virginia ChalleNGe Program provides a Safe Place, secure environment for teens to ChalleNGe themselves and change their lives.
Stress can be defined as taking over 100 teenagers having them volunteer to live away from home and give up the luxuries of television, computers, a refrigerator and cell phones. That stress is compounded if they abused tobacco, alcohol, drugs or food. To help reduce the stress and introduce new Healthy Start habits, the MCA has an on-site medical team every weekday. Exercise is part of the daily schedule. Counselors work as instructors covering topics such as anger control, healthy relationships, and nutrition.
An Effective Education at the Academy is a blend. Instructors cover the core topics included on the GED exam by using tradition instruction methods and modern, self-paced computer programs. Counselors explore topics in Life Coping. Cadre staff teaches leadership skills, team building, and swimming.
Opportunities to Help Others is one of the eight core components of the ChalleNGe Program. All Cadets donate over 40 hours to such organizations as the local animal shelter, fire departments, nursing homes, day care, and food pantries. Public service is a positive not a punishment. Cadets learn valuable communication skills they can transfer to their home communities.
Over 1,500 youth have been mentored in the last ten years. Last year over 260 community volunteers-mentors that had been screened and trained with the ChalleNGe Program averaged approximately 50 hours of service each.
For additional information:
Kathy Lynn Tasker, Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy
P. O. Box 568
Kingwood, WV 26537