East Baton Rouge Parish residents were among the 250 cadets who graduated from the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program at Camp Beauregard during a ceremony at The Pentecostal Church in Alexandria on June 13.

The graduates areDenile L. Smith, Baker; and Willie L. Bell, Cartess D. Buckley, Bethanie M. Chandler, Devon M. Claiborne, Jeffery J. Edwards, Khareyell I. Hatton, Da’keia T. Leggett, Hykeem D. Staples, Quentin J. Thomas, Noah M. Trabeaux, Corey S. Ward, NaShyra S. Whitaker, Trevor White and La’Daija M. Young, Baton Rouge.

The YCP offers youth ages 16 to 18 opportunities to further their educational goals through partnerships with Bossier Parish Community College and Associated Building Contractors, according to a news release. Participants in the BPCC program earned a total of 471 transferrable college credits before graduating from the five-month residential phase. Cadets in the ABC program completed a 90-hour NCCER course that allows them to become certified in basic construction technology.

“Our cadets have come to the Youth Challenge Program from all walks of life, from various locations across the state, and with unique personal challenges,” said Maj. Kenneth Paul, director of the Camp Beauregard YCP. “Our cadets understood that life was not what it should have been and volunteered to make a change.”

The YCP is administered to participants at no cost and has been recognized as one of the nation’s most effective and cost efficient programs for targeting at-risk youth, according to the release. More than 80 percent of teens who graduate from the program go on to further their education, join the work force or enlist in the military, the release said.