YouthBuild provides playhouses -- and a second chance for young builders

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A program in Louisville is building playhouses for children in need, while helping the builders themselves get a new start.

Builders like Kerry Wilson, who is part of the newest class from YouthBuild Louisville.

"I didn't know how to work a nail gun when I got here," Wilson said. "I learned a lot of things since I've been here for a short amount of time."

"I love it," he added.

A team of 38 people -- including Wilson -- is getting a second chance. The group ranges in ages from 16 to 24 years old. Many have criminal records and most don't have a high school diploma.

"They're just young people who haven't launched into adulthood yet," said Lynn Rippy, executive director of YouthBuild.

In 10 months, they'll earn a GED and a certification in construction carpentry by building playhouses.

"What we hope to do is help them figure out what their social barriers are and get them behind them," Rippy said.

"It gives me an opportunity to change my life," Wilson said.

With carpet and hardwood included, this is not your everyday playhouse.

"They're going to be fully insulated," said building manager David Netherton. "Heating and air conditioning...electric, some plumbing."

And all of it gives people like Kerry Wilson a chance to take the skills he learns into the work world -- a chance to re-write his story, which, in Wilson's words, includes, "a lot of crime and poverty-stricken areas, trying to find ways to get out, but there really weren't positive ways."

It's a gift that keeps on giving. The houses go to kids with special needs from Kosair Charities -- each one custom-designed to the child's own special interests. It's something Samantha Hubbard, a young woman we saw drilling and taking part in the construction, knows better than most.

"I graduated from the Kentucky School for the Blind almost four years ago," Hubbard said.

It's not just a class, not just learning: it's a second chance.

"Giving back is a way of humbling yourself," Wilson said. "When you come to YouthBuild, you leave your ego at the door."

The playhouse project is a partnership between Kosair Charities, the Building Industries Association and YouthBuild Louisville.

Copyright 2015 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.