Jacinta Krefft, of Waikanae Beach, has been awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to youth after almost 20 years of co-ordinating an early intervention programme for youth.
Recognising at-risk youth were needing extra support, Jacinta created Challenge for Change (C4C), an early intervention programme for youth aged 9 to 13 with moderate-to- high needs, including depression, low academic results and low self-esteem.
The youth are then matched with trained mentors who provide guidance, friendship and support.
Always motivated to make a difference after working for Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA) in Samoa as a volunteer early on in her career, Jacinta said she feels humbled and is grateful to all the many inspiring and generous volunteer mentors she has had the privilege to work with over the years.
"Receiving this medal also encourages and motivates me to continue to support young people and their families."
The C4C programme is implemented through Wellington Boys and Girls Institute, reaching schools and community organisations in the Greater Wellington Region that can refer youth for the programme.
"I can say with honesty that I grew to love all of those young people who were part of the programme and through that experience, I grew a sense of responsibility and care for all young people in Wellington – it is love that brings about transformation.
"I was and still am passionate about this programme and all its many facets.
"I am drawn to the innocence, spontaneity and enthusiasm of young people, and at the same time, I am aware of how vulnerable they are while still developing.
"I have always sought to help people believe in their greatness and this is particularly important for young people.
"When they know they are believed in and loved, they can begin to fulfil their dreams - being a part of this is very rewarding."
Co-ordinating the programme for 18 years also involved developing and facilitating the Te Awhi Parenting Programme, which supports the parents of young people in the C4C programme.
"That has been a real highlight as I believe all parents need an opportunity to participate in a parenting programme.
"Being a parent is both the greatest joy and challenge we face in life and I feel honoured that I have been able to journey with so many parents through the ups and downs of being part of a family."
Throughout its 18 years, the programme has benefited more than 400 young people and their parents.
Jacinta published Feather on the Water and The Journey Journal in 2005, and Song from the Rubble in 2014, resources for schools and organisations to develop similar mentoring programmes, and was also awarded the Absolutely Positively Wellingtonian Award in 2014.