By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Teens involved in a program that encourages them to be the best version of themselves launched boats they built Wednesday evening.

The celebration was the end of a three-month apprenticeship with non-profit Urban Boatbuilders. During that time, teens also built confidence.

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The boats ready for launch are a point of pride.

“If you’re doing anything like creating, you’re going to host that pride inside you when you’re creating. That just builds up as a result of the project,” apprentice Marquais Hill said.

The teens, ages 16 to 19, worked together to build wooden canoes, kayaks and paddle boards. Most of the paid apprentices are referred to the Urban Boatbuilders program.

(credit: CBS)

“They have to face a barrier to employment, which can mean a lot of different things, but basically it means they’re less likely to be successful in their future without a program like Urban Boatbuilders,” Urban Boatbuilders Executive Director Marc Hosmer said.

“It taught me a lot of out of school things, something school doesn’t always teach,” apprentice Julio Flores said.

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The launch is a special time where they get to celebrate their hard work and success. And take stock of what they’ve learned.

“I would say I was struggling before because I’m not very good at communicating with people that much,” apprentice Ktru Moo said.

Building a boat that floats is just the vehicle that results in so many things, like character development.

“I can be serious and passionate, lovable, smart, strong, strong worker,” Hill said.

In the end, the apprentices get to see how far they can go in life.

“Seeing they actually float, all the work we put in them and people trying them and ‘whoa this floats,’” Flores said.

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The apprentices will soon go for a wilderness adventure in their boats. Then the boats will be sold, with the money raised going back to help fund the Urban Boatbuilders program.

Jennifer Mayerle