Audrey McCarthy has three children, and after being a stay-at-home mum for nine years, she felt like she had "lost who she was".

Mother-of-two Nstasha Thompson was finding it hard to get motivated.

And Emily Wright, who has a two-year-old daughter, says she lacked confidence and self-esteem.

But after completing a new pilot programme, the Tauranga mums have a new outlook on life and are preparing to take on tertiary study or start new jobs.

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The first eight-week Puawaitanga programme, run by Sport Bay of Plenty, wrapped up at the end of June where a group of 12 solo mums learnt a range of skills to better their futures.

Programme facilitator, Naomi Williams, said the intensive programme was all about giving the young mums the tools to become more confident in all aspects of their lives.

The women gained techniques including time management, relationship management, self-awareness and career planning all through physical activity and theory.

"We focus on the big picture," Williams said.

"For a lot of mums staying at home can be very isolating, so the programme is a great way for them to socialise and network as well," she said.

During the programme, the mums would do something different every day including boot camp workouts, Zumba sessions, walks and even an eight-hour tramp in the Kaimai Ranges.

The end of the programme proved to be emotional for the group who had bonded so closely.

"We are like one big family now, we're so connected, and we've made friendships that will last forever," McCarthy said.

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"I was so shy I didn't even want to come in the door on the first day, but it really is the best thing I've ever done for myself," she said.

McCarthy was looking forward to starting a Bachelor of Nursing in a few weeks' time.

Wright had made many positive changes to her lifestyle and said she had become a better parent because of the programme.

"I've made so many positive changes. I quit smoking and lost weight, and I have a whole new mindset," she said.

Thompson was doing work experience with Sport Bay of Plenty and enjoyed how much fitter she felt.

"This course has changed my whole way I think about everything, and I just want a better future for my kids."


Puawaitanga programme
The first pilot programme ran from April 23- June 29. For more information contact Sport Bay of Plenty