Participation in the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) program enables vulnerable teens to realize their own ability to be leaders and agents of change.:
Norn, 20, has overcome many obstacles to get where he is today, leaving behind the negative influence of family and friends to pursue a brighter future. “He has grown so much in the years that I've known him. He was someone who disappeared in the crowd, was surrounded by the negative influences of gang affiliation, participating in the consumption of drugs and alcohol, and experiencing difficulties in his home life while not being with his mother or father,” says Sheryl Blessing, World Vision youth development specialist.
Through a variety of interactions, World Vision has been instrumental in assisting him in making positive decisions in his life. In 2007, Norn was a middle school student participating in a drug and alcohol prevention program through Consejo Counseling & Referral Service, a World Vision community partner in Tacoma. Through KidREACH, World Vision’s tutoring and mentoring program, Norn received one-on-one mentoring support while he was in treatment and continued to participate through ninth grade.
Norn got involved with World Vision’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) in 2010. Through YEP he began building healthy peer relationships, deepened his understanding about who he is, and worked on policy recommendations to improve educational opportunities in his community. In 2011, he attended the National YEP Summit in Washington D.C., meeting youth from all over the country who shared similar experiences.
Norn graduated from high school and served on YEP’s Local Youth Advisory Council in Tacoma. He currently attends community college and is a YEP fellow, earning a small stipend for helping to mentor Tacoma YEP groups.
“Through his engagement with us, he has found a family who accepts him for who he is, has been held accountable for his actions, and has continuously been encouraged to further his abilities,” says Sheryl. “Although he is currently homeless, he is still going to college, pursuing a higher education, and seeing a positive future for himself.”
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