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YouthBuild McLean County Creatively Maintains Hands-on Learning

Lenard Brown Jr., 17, a student majoring in construction, measures a board during classes at YouthBuild of McLean County on Tuesday. Brown said the attention he received is helping him reach his goal as a welder.



It was a way to provide hands-on experience and be interactive while also following coronavirus safety protocols.

Alicia Lenard, YouthBuild development director, said, “When the pandemic first hit, it was really tricky. How are we going to do the vocational things?”

Zoom was helpful in maintaining contact and keeping students on track, especially those that faced additional responsibilities. They also have brought in students two or three at a time for hands-on activities at their location at Crossroads Center.

Lenard Brown Jr., 17, of Normal, said, “In my other school, I couldn’t focus really well. … YouthBuild got me back on track.”

The one-on-one attention helped him better understand his classes. He is set to graduate in March, but will continue working on the house at 409 E. Olive St. in Bloomington that he and other students in the construction program have been rehabilitating.

That support is one of the keys to the success of YouthBuild, which offers education in construction, health careers and information technology to educationally and economically disadvantaged students ages 16-24 while they also earn their high school diplomas.

“I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s all done,” said Brown. “Before I came to YouthBuild, I didn’t know anything about construction. I learned how to use power tools and hand tools.”

Faye Sanders, health and wellness instructor at YouthBuild of McLean County, sets up a workstation in the school's new health lab.



Provided by: Lenore Sobota

Education Reporter for The Pantagraph


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