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Grizzly Youth Academy Receives Top National Award “Best All-Around Program” The Grizzly Youth Academy, part of the National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program, was recently honored by the National Guard Bureau (NGB) and AOC Solutions as the “Best All-Around Program” in the nation. This prestigious award was accepted by COL James Gabrielli, Director, California National Guard Youth Programs, LTC Nancy Baird, Director, Grizzly Youth Academy (GYA), as well as faculty and cadre attending the NGB Youth Challenge National Conference in Charleston, South Carolina. The finalist for this highest award, when judged against 30 national programs in 25 states, excelled in leadership, academic excellence, job skills, community service, health and hygiene, citizenship, physical fitness, life-coping skills and post-residential management. The finalists were Arizona, Oregon and California, all of whom displayed attention to detail in providing excellence in all aspects of their program. California’s Grizzly Youth Academy won top honors. AOC Solutions, Inc., who provides annual evaluations of all Youth Challenge Programs for the NGB, related the unique qualities of California’s program which led to their award. “Strong leadership and teamwork is the cornerstone of the winning program. The staff is truly dedicated to improving the lives of its Cadets. Their comprehensive development and presentation of core component curricula, combined with their effective behavioral intervention methods, leads to the growth and development of each Cadet. Their well-developed Post-Residential Action Plan is fully integrated into the Residential Phase, allowing it to become a viable, living document to guide Cadets through their Post-Residential experiences. The winner for Best All-Around Program is the California Grizzly Youth Academy.” The California National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program received more good news in 2005 in receiving federal authorization to “expand” the existing Grizzly Youth Academy and, even more significantly, to add a 2nd Youth Challenge Program in Southern California. To date, $1.7 million dollars has been earmarked for California to establish a second Youth Challenge Program and the Youth Programs Directorate is ardently seeking a suitable location in the state. COL James Gabrielli credits his GYA management team, faculty, cadre and all military and civilian staff members for their tremendous teamwork and focus on the 8 core components of the program. “To be recognized and awarded as the best program required all team members to synchronize their efforts and continually improve the quality of the program. We were evaluated on how effectively we trained and educated our students so that when they leave our program, they have the tools and resources they need in order to make positive and permanent changes in their life.” The Grizzly Youth Academy has been operating at Camp San Luis Obispo since 1998 and is known in the community for the many hours of community service the cadets perform for the county. The program is funded mostly by our federal and state governments with additional resources coming from grants and donations. There is no charge to families who enroll their teen. The Academy is open to any at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of high school or are failing their classes. However, enrollees must be drug free, with no court cases pending, and they must be committed to making a change in their life. GYA is currently accepting applications for their July 2006 class and for more information call toll-free at 1-800-926-0643.
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