Understanding the many challenges young people face can help us as a community to better support and equip them with tools to help them be more resilient.
He aha koa he iti pounamu - you may be small, but you are a precious gift.
I spoke with a young person who shared her story of needing support services when she was younger to better equip her into independence because at the time she had no support from whānau. This led her to make a permanent decision that she will always carry.
"I was raised as an only child and lived in this flash house which my dad designed. I could say I was materialistically spoilt and had whatever I could ask for from my working parents."
Growing up she faced unforeseen challenges like us all. "During my upbringing I wasn't exposed to the use of drugs and alcohol. Once I turned 14, I faced the challenge of my parents' separation. I retaliated by rebelling at school, shifting from home to home and I fell dependant on drugs and alcohol."
This is the situation of many of the young people in our community when faced with difficult challenges. Many are not equipped with the right tools, methods and support to be able to show resilience and end up turning to an easy and quite accessible habit of drinking and drugs.
While dealing with all of this she felt as if no one cared about her so once falling into a relationship with a guy she met online, which was no fairy tale, she faced many more life making decisions without any support from whānau or services.
"He was violent and dependant on drugs. And then I found myself pregnant. My partner once finding out, left me for a friend the moment he found out and again I was all alone, but now I had a baby on the way. I had no source of income, home, or vehicle. I would even shower at my friend's workplace."
Once finding part-time employment in homecare assistance, she was using her income to buy drugs in bulk to also sell to support her into sustainable living.
Understandably, we would all want our whānau to journey alongside us during pregnancy but unfortunately for her, she was rejected from her whānau and there was no support from them during this time.
"I felt alone, pressured, and disconnected from the world around me."
When seeking support and advice from her GP, the only support she received was abortion papers; no referral on to another service provider that could have helped, no recognition that Ministry of Social Development can support new mums. Unaware of the teen parent school, she only had this permanent decision.
Whangārei Youth Space offers support in mentoring, health services, employment, events and much more. We would hope that young people when faced with such challenges are aware that we are here to support and help connect you with other service providers within Whangārei, if we are not able to well-support you ourselves.
• Anahera Pickering is community outreach co-ordinator at Whangārei Youth Space. She can be contacted at Anahera@youthspace.co.nz