At our 2017 Award Celebration on July 24th, Abigail Bell was recognized for her many accomplishments with the YouthBuild
program and her recent appointment to the National Council of Young Leaders. The National Council of Young Leaders is a diverse body of young leaders across the United States who advise policy makers and funders on issues affecting low income youth. Abigail’s willingness to share her voice for youth is admirable and the reason why we honored her.
The YouthBuild of Northern Kentucky program works with young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 to create a place where they can complete their secondary education, prepare to complete further education, and gain career skills that can be applied to not only the carpentry certification earned at YouthBuild, but also to any individually chosen career.
Abigail Bell came to Northern Kentucky from Meridian, Mississippi. She had been home schooled and was looking for projects for her senior year. That’s when she discovered Youthbuild.
While participating in YouthBuild, Abigail enjoyed going to a job site every day and learning from the construction trainers. The hands-on experience kept her engaged, excited and inspired to continue her education. Abigail credits YouthBuild with giving her more confidence, stamina, assertiveness, focus and work ethic.
“Youthbuild opened my eyes. I was sheltered in a lot of ways before I came to YouthBuild. I learned to get out of my shell. I learned to respect different opinions and not to be too quick to judge, to think and wait before I responded, and to try and understand other people’s perspective and opinions,” Abigail said.
YouthBuild focuses on leadership and provides opportunities for young people to build that skill. Abigail was selected to represent the local YouthBuild chapter in Washington DC at the Youth Leaders Council annual conference and now serves on their Board.
“Traveling was wonderful, representing our district was wonderful. I toured the Capital, met with Representatives and Senators, learned about advocacy locally and nationally. Speaking in front of people (something I thought I would never be able to do) built my confidence. It was a huge boost. A year before, I would never have imagined that I would be in D.C. talking to a Senator,” she said.
Abigail describes YouthBuild as a stepping stone to the future. A place where “you get encouragement and find an internal drive you may not have known you had.” A place where “everyone in the program – teachers, coaches, classmates – are all there to help you succeed.”
YouthBuild serves young adults from a variety of backgrounds who have a desire to increase their educational attainment level and build a fulfilling life. Abigail agrees that “anyone who is willing to pursue their goals and work hard will succeed in YouthBuild.”
Since exiting YouthBuild, Abigail has been working full-time and is getting ready to start her Nursing degree at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.
In 2016, 26 youth graduates earning either a Pre-Apprentice Carpentry Certificate or their GED through YouthBuild Northern Kentucky.
Youthbuild is currently recruiting for their next class. Interested youth ages 16 to 24, wanting to receive a GED or HSD, a construction skills training certification, or need help find a good paying job or college enrollment should call 859-655- 2950 or email LoMoore@nkcac.org.