Dytisha Sledge has been without shoes, without clothes other than those on her back, without a home, food or without much of any family to speak of. She dropped out of high school just to survive.Yet the 19-year-old Peorian has persevered.
Dytisha took the steps she needed to pull out of a downward spiral, and on Sunday, January 29, 2012, she walked in a graduation ceremony at the Tri-County Urban League (Peoria, IL) to receive her General Educational Development diploma (GED).”I have met several different people who have the same goals as I do,” Dytisha told the audience. “Some of us have made it, and some of us are almost there. One thing that I will always remember is a quote that was repeated many times by a staff member: ‘If you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same results.’ This saying made me realize that I needed to change my way of thinking.” “This program, these people have taught me my past can’t hurt me any longer,” she later added. “Right now, I’m a better person, I’m focused on being successful.”
Dytisha was one of 18 young people who over the past year were part of YouthBuild Peoria. The education and job-training program was funded by a federal grant administered by Workforce Development Network and administered in collaboration with the Tri-County Urban League.
The program has a more than 50 percent success rate – much greater than the typical GED program completion rate, said Urban League case manager Charles Miner. Plus, a handful in the program are now enrolled at ICC and/or have gained employment.
“We laughed together, we cried together; a lot of these young people have gone through a lot to get where they are today,” Miner said. “We deal with a lot of social issues – there’s a lot of one-on-one – before they sit in the classroom studying; this is much more of an intensive program.” Participants received additional “real world” skills and support as they worked toward earning their GEDs.