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YES to expand programs for CNMI’s at-risk youth

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Posted on Apr 22 2021

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Youth Empowerment Solutions, or YES, a humanitarian organization that works to help and treat at-risk youth, plans to expand its services and programs to include interest exploration and career advancement programs.

Diego “DJ” Manglona Sablan, who is chief executive officer of YES, said the organization has been working closely with the Division of Youth Services since YES’ creation in January 2020 to help and treat at-risk youth, such as those that frequently get put in after-school detention.

Sablan is happy with the group’s progress so far and that those who need treatment are receiving help, but he said he is dedicated to accomplishing even more with the organization. Satisfied with what he terms as YES’ “clinical side,” in 2021 he plans to nurture YES’ “educational side.”

Those future plans for YES’ educational services include interest exploration and career advancement programs. “One thing I found out with the young people is that they have to find their interests. Once you find the interest, most likely they’ll be more willing to be involved with treatment,” Sablan said. Guided by these findings, Sablan has plans for YES to have interest exploration programs where, in collaboration with athletic associations, can be introduced to mentors and get involved in canoeing, basketball, baseball, mixed martial arts, and other activities.

For YES’ career advancement program, Sablan is working on partnerships with the Northern Marianas College and Northern Marianas Trades Institue. Sablan also brought up ideas of organizing off-island excursions and forming partnerships with U.S. universities and companies as aspirational, long-term goals for YES. “Let’s say [a student] wants to be an engineer. We can do an excursion where they can actually go to a Boeing facility and gain interest. Then they can go to NMC, and when they’re ready to pursue their goal, they can say ‘Hey look, I’ve been to Boeing, I like what Boeing does,’” he said.

Sablan, who is also board chair of the nonprofit organization Miracle Hands Charity, said his experience with Miracle Hands Charity allowed him to see first-hand the group’s success at getting financial backing and sponsorships. Predicting similar success and interest for his organization, Sablan has high hopes for YES’ future. “It’s fairly new what we’re trying to do here, but we’re very optimistic and have good people working with us. …There should be some success; it’s just about getting the key people in the right places,” says Sablan.

Joshua Santos | Reporter
Joshua Santos is a Mount Carmel School AlumKnight and University of Florida Gator Grad with a passion for writing. He is one of Saipan Tribune’s newest reporters. Josh enjoys golf, chess, and playing video games with friends in his spare time.

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