The YouthBuild program concluded Mental Toughness last week; final selections for the program were made on Friday. Mental Toughness is a vigorous, three-week orientation process provided to potential students before entering the program. They participate in academic assessments, leadership development activities and physical training aimed at setting the tone for the rest of the year. Jawnathon Rhines, who was officially accepted into the program last Friday, took a moment to answer a few questions for us:
What attracted you to the program? How did you hear about it?
I was part of cityWILD in high school and became familiar with environmental work. I heard about the YouthBuild program at Mile High Youth Corps through Big City Mountaineers. I really wanted to get my G.E.D, but I was also really excited about working for an environmental organization again. It’s like going back to what I know.
Did anything surprise you about Mental Toughness?
The physical training. I don’t think anyone expected it. We had to run sprints and do lunges every day. It really brought out my leadership abilities, pushing everyone to keep going. It made me more confident in being a leader.
What was one thing you learned during Mental Toughness?
How diverse we all are. It opened my eyes to other peoples’ needs. We really learned to support each other and help pull one another up if they’re struggling.
What is motivating you to be here every day?
First, it was my family; now, it’s the people here. We’re all striving towards a common goal. My crew expects me to show up every day, to be a leader. I don’t want them to be asking, “Where’s Jawnathon today? Why isn’t he here?” They’re counting on me.
What was the biggest highlight of Mental Toughness?
The service project we did at Bluff Lake. It was so empowering. We were clearing a trail after the heavy rains. You could really see that we were part of a change, that we made a difference.
What do you hope to gain this year?
Definitely my G.E.D. I want to grow as a leader. I’m running for Leadership Council this Friday. I want to build myself up and become a stronger person.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This has been a mind blowing experience so far. Being a part of this program, I now have something to strive for.