Teen outreach program helps students succeed

Teen outreach program helps teens succeed

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Branden Gaspard signed up for Wyman's Teen Outreach Program only to have something to do.

"I was bored and grounded and so, it was a way to get out of the house," Gaspard said.

But he soon found a lot more than just a get-out-of-the-house-free card.

"Just about everything they taught, I could use that in real life," said Gaspard.

Most students have the same response as Gaspard. They joined the program not expecting much, but soon had ideas for their future.

"At first, it was just something to do, but then I realized I really just wanted to be a leader," said Kaylan Davis.

TOP is an after school prevention program that began with the goal of decreasing the risk of teen pregnancy and increasing school success.

And real life lessons are taught, which organizers said help make them great citizens in Calcasieu Parish.

"They gave us play money and they asked, 'would you spend it on being popular or someone else?'," said Kyrei Davis.

Students also learn about relationships, sexuality, self-esteem and peer pressure.

Organizers said those that complete the program have a lower risk of school dropout, school suspension, course failure and a lower risk of pregnancy.

And Janeal McCauley said she watched her son transform after the program.

"As a parent, I'm thrilled because I've seen him blossom into the man I always knew he could be," said McCauley.

But no matter what each teen took away from the program, they all have one thing in common.

"When the last month came up, it was kind of hard to say bye to all your friends," said Kaylan Davis.

The students meet weekly during those nine months and must complete 20 hours of community service to finish the program. Both boys and girls can sign up.

For more information, call 337-439-5861.

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