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Illinois Country Living


R. Engert
R. Engert

Getting back on track
Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy opens new doors for youths

Some thoughts from a volunteer: Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy is one of America’s best-kept secrets.

In most neighborhoods, we deal with some young adults who press the limits, break the law and seek mind-numbing options. We lock the worst youths up and try to frighten the rest into compliance with acceptable standards of existence. But, the best option, in my opinion, remains America’s best-kept secret.

For a few of those off track young adults, I have seen Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy Program restore motivation and put that young person back “on track” to success.

I have seen Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy save lives, restore personal motivation and return pride to young adult lives. I have seen this program turn around a percentage of young adults, ages 16 to 18, from “losers” to productive taxpayers. If you see what I have seen, you too will support this program.

The Lincoln’s ChalleNGe program, operated by Illinois National Guard, is paid for with federal and state funding. It is not for all youths. Those with felony records are not eligible, but those who are, need direction and a GED.

The strength of the program rests in its voluntary residential participation. Teens fill out an application and if accepted, enter the program as candidates. Once through the initial two weeks, they are considered cadets.

Approximately 350 students are enrolled for a six-month educational training. Students are members of teams, ranging from 30 to 50 in number. The program stresses education, exercise and rewards. While it doesn’t cure every broken spirit, it does offer a means to success, a way to restoration.

Each cadet’s story is different. There are some young adults who have been damaged by parents, others by community agency staff, a family tragedy, or some who have opened the door to chemical dependence.

There are psychologically defeated youths, who find no reason to restore their lives because of emotional trauma or personal loss. And, there are a few others who have stumbled onto roads from which they seem unable to escape. The ChalleNGe program can give these young adults who are off-track, a way back … a “winner’s life” with physical fitness, chemical-free alertness and emotional stability. The program can free the cadet from a failing past and a defeated heart. There are many young adults who could be assisted by the ChalleNGe Program in their personal efforts to restore their lives.

Want to know more about one of America’s best-kept secrets? Call 800-851-2166 or, check out Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy website:


  • Finding home challenging?
  • Finding school Challenging?
  • Are you frustrated and loosing ground daily?

…Well, we do have an option for you.

We’re in the business of restoring lives and you just might qualify. We are Lincoln’s Challenge Academy. We’re in Rantoul, Ill. and operated by the Illinois National Guard. If you are 16 to 18 years age and not succeeding in school, we may have the program you have been seeking.

Call 1-800/851-2166 for more information about Lincoln’s Challenge Academy or check out our website at

R. Engert is a mentor at Lincoln ChalleNGe Academy. He can be reached at or phone 217/960-1435 about the program.

© 2016 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
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