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From the Fall River Herald News: YouthBuild Fall River Students Find a Path to Future Success

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

25 students were honored Wednesday for completing the program that teaches academics, job skills and the life lessons

FALL RIVER — “You won’t get anywhere in life if you don’t get up in the morning,” Christopher Rodrigues said.

Simple, really. But you have to learn it somewhere.

Rodrigues learned it, in a way that stuck, at YouthBuild Fall River, he said.

He is ready for the rest of his life now.

Rodrigues was one of 25 people to receive a certificate of completion Wednesday for the past 10 months they spent with YouthBuild.

The certificate tells the world they completed a program that taught them academics, job skills and the life lessons they need to get by.

“I learned to get up every day,” Rodrigues said. “I learned to get on a schedule so I can be where I have to be every day and be ready when I get there.”

All of that is valuable, said state Rep. Carole Fiola, the guest speaker at the commencement ceremony.

“Have a plan,” she said. “Start tomorrow and go forward. Have a plan for the day every morning when you get up.”

YouthBuild is a national effort with 260 programs run in 44 states. It serves 8,000 students a year. Students in the program are from low income families and identified as at risk for not completing high school.

The program offers classes so students can earn a high school diploma, job training, life skills tutoring and the opportunity to earn college tuition money through public service.

Joseph Barakat, the director in Fall River, said students have planted gardens, built park benches, have even worked through Fiola’s office to help clear snow from the sidewalks and driveways of people who cannot do the work themselves.

“They learn that the way to improve our community is to give back,” he said. “Plus, it is good for Fall River to see kids in a positive way.”

Students earned HiSet, the degree formerly known as the GED, and many also earned primary vocational credentials for construction work, the trades or medical careers. Several are going on to secondary education at Bristol Community College, Barakat said.

But something more basic and magical also happens in the program, Rodrigues said.

“It teaches you how to be an adult,” he said.

Email Kevin P. O’Connor at koconnor@heraldnews.com.

Original story appeared here: http://www.heraldnews.com/news/20181003/youthbuild-fall-river-students-find-path-to-future-success