Kids at Valley View Mall got to show off their Lego building skills for a good cause Saturday. The 5th annual Building Bricks for Hope served as a fund raising event benefiting the Family and Children Center's Hope Academy program.
"Hope [Academy] really helps build the foundation for a good parenting role model," said Nicole Greve, a graduate of the program and organizer for the Lego contest fundraiser.
Hope Academy serves as an alternative high school for pregnant teens and teen parents helping provide resources that may not be available to them in a normal setting.
"I've been able to go through [Western] and get a good education there," said Greve. "I've moved on and gotten a job, I've been married and had another kid, so it's not only the education but it helps building the bricks of going through life."
On a national scale, teen parents graduate at a rate of only 40%. Hope Academy boasts a 100% graduation rate.
"They are required to get a B average," said Jamie Korn, Family and Children Center's Development Director. "They are required to have a life transition plan. when they leave so they need to know where they are going to live [and] where they are going to work. We make them take a college education entrance exam so that they remove that barrier so that they do go to college."
Graduates of the program like Greve now want to take what has changed their lives for the better and share it with more families.
"It's extra meaningful to be able to not only share my story but kind of be that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel," said Greve. "I know that some of those girls are just tired and it's really, really, really hard."
The annual Lego building contest raises about $10,000 each year. The yearly budget for Hope Academy is over $360,000. If you would like to donate, you can go to FCCOnline.org or mail a check to the Family and Children's Center in La Crosse.