Youth work on project

By ILONA HANNE

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A group of Stratford youngsters are doing their bit to make the world a better place as they create an outdoor area at Tutaki Youth Inc using repurposed and recycled materials.

Rory McGill (12) says he likes "making stuff," and is enjoying being able to learn more skills at the same time as he does his bit to help the environment.

"It's also good how we all get to share our ideas and then work together on them. Everyone has a say and we all get listened to."

Rory is one of a group of several young people working on the programme, called Impact, run by the Taranaki Environmental Education Trust (TEET) with support from the Ministry of Youth Development Active Citizenship funding.

Facilitators Jo Weise and Erin Strampel say they love working with the group as they have such a wide range of ideas and are passionate about environmental issues.

"You ask a question about the environment and they instantly respond. They know all the right words, they understand the issues," says Jo.

Erin says making the programme youth-led is important.

"They have ownership of their ideas and they are committed to seeing them work."

Taranaki is running the trial for the programme, with groups busy at work in Waitara and New Plymouth as well as Eltham and Stratford. One of the Stratford participants is 12-year-old Keegan Willis, who says he hopes the project becomes national.

"It would be great for this to be in every town. We get to work in a group different from how we do at school and we get to make stuff which will last."

Keegan loves being able to share his ideas in the group and says he has gained confidence through the programme.

Jo says most children they work with gain both confidence and new skills.

"Plus they make new friends as they are working with a group of young people from different schools and backgrounds."

She and Erin say they love the ideas the group have come up with so far and are enjoying working with them.

"The project helps teach planning skills," says Erin. "Each week the group work out what they need to do and what they should have already achieved."

Simon Howard, general manager at Tutaki Youth Inc, says the programme is great to see in action, and he is thrilled with the support from local businesses.

"Stratford ITM has been very helpful and are sponsoring us through some items as we need them, while Royce Mattock of On The Go Services has volunteered his time and skills."

If any other local businesses would like to help, Simon says he would love to hear from them. "It is a rewarding project to be involved with and a great way to support young people."

- Stratford Press

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