The gruelling day started even earlier for Kapiti Youth Support (KYS) staff than it did for the youth.

Stepping into the shoes of their youth, the staff participated in the 'Longest Day', the most intense day of the NZ Defence Force-led Limited Service Volunteer programme.

The six-week military-style programme which takes on young people aged between 17 and 25 aims to teach life and motivation skills and develops young people's self-discipline, self-confidence, motivation and initiative to give them the employability skills needed to get into a job.

It's a programme KYS have referred youth too as a place to reset, to regain confidence, to feel a sense of accomplishment and even to find belonging.

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Youth participating in the Limited Service Volunteer course getting ready the 'Longest Day'.
Youth participating in the Limited Service Volunteer course getting ready the 'Longest Day'.

Leaving Kāpiti at 2.30am nine staff from KYS headed over the hill to Trentham, arriving in time for the 4am wake up call.

"Starting with an activity that involved carrying logs, we were pretty much treated like the youth and did all the activities they did," Kapiti Youth Support youth coach Reuben Batten said.

The staff, participated alongside youth doing log carrying, code cracking, setting up army tents and a number of other activities that involved physical work, group work and team building.

"It was pretty gruelling. We were going for hours and then I looked at the time and it was only eight o'clock in the morning.

"You had to support each other in a group setting, different people were able to show their strengths in each activity.

"It was good for us to spend the day in the life of an LSV trainee."

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KYS has put three youth through the six week course since the Wellington programme reopened in August, with hundreds of youth participating every year at camps in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

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"It shows we are committed to the young people by submitting a team and being there beside them.

"It was cool to be able to work alongside them and experience a bit of what they have been experiencing.

"Doing the Longest Day shows we are not just talking the talk but walking the walk."

Having nine staff away from the office for a day also showed the commitment KYS is putting in.

"I'm proud of how out staff have done this day and are really showing that they are role models for the young people," KYS social support practise adviser Christina Frantik said.

"It's a life changing experience for the youth as it is so rewarding and you come out with such a clear mind while also gaining confidence in participating in something that's really hard.

"It gives them a new beginning and reinstates their sense of belonging."

"This programme is for those that if what they've been doing hasn't really worked, and a fresh start is needed, try this. They're there for a six week stint, and us here at KYS are able to help with the longer term support. We will be there to provide the support they need afterwards."