College Orientation Workshop pushes at-risk boys to succeed

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) -- When they exercise, even the warm up is pretty intense.

“It’s like jumping jacks," says Klein Ngoga, one of the College Orientation Workshop students in Lexington, Virginia. "But in like, different ways you never done a jumping jack.”

Once they get into the actual exercises – one series is called “Eat the Bear” – it gets even worse.

“They push us,' says Ngoga, who is attending for his second year. "They push me, they push everyone, and they expect us to push everyone else, because we can’t let anyone down here.”

Gene Williams, COW's Founder, explains, “We need to teach them is what they think is their best is not their best. And the easiest way to prove that is through some physical challenge.”

But it’s not all physical. There are classroom sessions, like in financial literacy and public speaking, that not only work their minds but show what they are capable of.

“It’s really a hectic schedule,” says Cow student Carlos Acosta.

“They make us feel uncomfortable pretty much all the time, and that helps us to understand that pretty much nothing in life is given. You have to earn it,” says Ngoga.

And there is absolutely no whining.

“I am deaf in this ear," Williams says, pointing to his right ear, then his left. "I’m also deaf in this ear when a kid is complaining about something that is not a legitimate issue. And they realize it and after a while, they stop doing it.”

“It’s fantastic," Acosta says. "I feel like this program is life changing. When you come in here, you set a goal for yourself, and with your COW brothers you accomplish that goal.”

“We are blessed," says Williams. "It works.”

Read the original version of this article at wdbj7.com.