At a young age, Anthony Weber was addicted to PC gaming and refused to leave his room. At age 11, he dropped out of school and didn’t return for almost 10 years–until his father passed away on Anthony’s 21st birthday. He remembered a promise he made to his dad to be the first in his family to get a high school diploma.
Anthony recalled, “I wanted to keep my word to my dad. My sister, Annie, knew of a program up in Vermont [i.e. YouthBuild] where I could meet those ends. When I got accepted, I uprooted my life in New York, and sold my addiction [referring to PC gaming devices] to focus on schooling.”
In the beginning, Anthony had a tough time adjusting. Having been withdrawn from society for 9+ years, he was not used to going to class with a group of people and talking in front of them. YouthBuild’s activities began to bring around changes in his life. The first was the program’s Mental Toughness Challenge, where Anthony and his classmates climbed to the top of Mount Mansfield.
Anthony explained, “That was the first time I ever hiked. I was getting tired the closer we got to the top but Chris, a YouthBuild instructor, stayed behind and kept encouraging me. So I pressed forward and made it to the top. Looking back now, that taught me to never give up, and it helped me keep going until I got the job I have now.”
Anthony is currently working at JaniTech, a cleaning service agency. His professionalism at work is a direct result of YouthBuild’s training.
“I have noticed many changes because of YouthBuild,” Anthony described. “I am more outgoing and have learned how to dress and present myself professionally. Now I represent JaniTech by wearing the work shirt and, no matter what, displaying a positive attitude so it reflects well on the company.
Anthony noted that going through YouthBuild was difficult, but it changed him for the better. “I am glad I did it. YouthBuild taught me to take responsibility for my actions. It taught me how to be ready for a work environment.”
Indeed, YouthBuild is not only an alternative schooling option but it’s also a place where students feel safe and supported in exploring their personal and professional development.