LOCAL SUCCESS STORY TO BE HONORED AS “GOLD MEDALIST FOR LIFE” BY THE YOUTH HOME THAT GAVE HIM A SECOND CHANCE
Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Ga. Celebrates its 60th Anniversary
(CHICAGO, IL) Nick Ewart of Lowell, Ind., never expected to be honored as a “Gold Medalist for Life.” The 27-year-old electrician and family man lives a relatively peaceful life. It could have been the exact opposite of what he is experiencing now if not for Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH), a Christian residential program and on-campus school for young men between the ages of 16 and 21 struggling with behavioral problems and issues of discipline, anger and depression.
Paul Anderson, who was declared “the strongest man in the world” after the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games, was a gold medal winner and weightlifting legend. To this day, no one has exceeded or even matched his feat of lifting 6,270 lb. in a back lift. Anderson used his fame to promote youth physical fitness and his devotion to Jesus Christ. While touring the country as a goodwill ambassador, he developed a desire to help young people mired in bad behavior and poor choices who were throwing their lives away. Along with his wife Glenda, who still maintains quite a presence at the Home, the Paul Anderson Youth Home was founded in 1961.
PAYH celebrates its 60th anniversary this year with a specific goal in mind. The organization will be reaching out across the country to let parents and advocates know there is a place to find an alternative to jail for troubled young men and boys who need a second chance.
Ewart is one of six distinguished alumni who are being recognized by the youth home as true success stories, living productive and positive lives and named “Gold Medalists for Life.”
In tandem with the 60th anniversary and the award, an awareness campaign encompassing print and digital channels will focus on stories like his, targeting prosecutors, law enforcement, legal aid, social services, parent groups, churches and other organizations who could intervene and keep a troubled boy or young man from prison and put them on track to change their lives.
At 18, Ewart’s poor attitude, anger issues and constant clashes with his parents led him to legal trouble. A family friend mentioned Paul Anderson Youth Home and the family decided it was the right place for him.
“I needed help,” Ewart said.
If necessary, each young man in PAYH’s care receives counseling, academic assistance to complete their education, job training, and substance abuse therapy. Adjusting was difficult at first. Given his problems with rebellion and anger, Ewart found following the rules and adhering to the strict discipline of PAYH was very challenging. The message broke through eventually, and he realized the Home was setting him up for success in life.
Ewart embraced the program, ultimately participating in the annual PAYH Bike Ride, a week-long, 500-mile bicycle marathon that raises much-needed support for the Home.
“It’s definitely one of my favorite memories of my two years there. The feeling of accomplishment meant a lot to me,” he added.
After graduation, Ewart spent some time in college but decided trade school was a better fit, and he pursued electrician training. After completion, he served two internships and is currently a lead maintenance technician, performing electrical and plumbing work.
He credits the spiritual lessons he learned at PAYH for strengthening his marriage and his relationship with his wife and son, who recently celebrated his first birthday.
The PAYH mission has remained the same, as has the need for alternatives to prison. “Rather than facing a life of crime, jail time, and poor adjustment, young people need continued support and counseling like the kind that our Home has provided for decades, said Glenda Anderson. “Our boys who have completed the program are the living example of how the ministry turns lives around and helps make respectful men who are an asset to their communities.”
For a troubled youth who might benefit from Paul Anderson Youth Home, Ewart offers some advice.
“Think about all the situations you were in, all the decisions you made, all the trouble you got yourself in, the common denominator is you. You are the one getting yourself in trouble, but you’re also the one who can get you out of it,” Ewart said.
ABOUT PAUL ANDERSON YOUTH HOME
Founded in 1961 by weightlifting world champion and Olympic gold medalist Paul Anderson and his wife, Glenda, the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) is a Christian residential program and on-campus school for young men between the ages of 16 and 21 struggling with behavioral problems and issues of discipline, anger and depression. PAYH is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). In addition to counseling and character development, PAYH offers an accelerated learning program enabling residents to graduate with a high school diploma and technical certifications. To date, over 1,400 young men have attended the program. The Home is located at 1603 McIntosh St. in Vidalia, Ga. To learn more about PAYH, call (912) 537-7237 or visit www.payh.org.