Money from Z Energy's Good In The Hood promotion has gone towards purchasing outdoor equipment for a powerful youth intervention programme, S.T.A.R.T Taranaki.

Based in Kaponga for the last 12 years, S.T.A.R.T (Supporting Today's At Risk Teenagers) is a outward bound type experience that gives young men who have been through the court system a chance to make a change and start working towards being independent.

Chief executive Neville Phillips says that S.T.A.R.T is a three stage community intervention programme that takes in clients from all over the country.

"The young people that come to us come from a background of trauma and abuse, the idea of the programme is to change their way of thinking and help them build towards a brighter future."

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Operations manager, Clayton Dando, says the programme begins with a wilderness experience. "We take the students out to the bush to give them the opportunity to build bonds with our staff while flushing their systems of toxins and negative attitudes."

During stage two the group live together in Kaponga working towards their goals and getting involved in work experience through local businesses. Neville says this stage helps build a work ethic while letting the students explore career paths they are interested in.

In the final stage Clayton explains that students transition back into the community, move back to their homes and continue their work towards the future. "We call and visit the clients regularly to ensure they still feel supported and motivated to keep up the good work," says Clayton.

Neville founded S.T.A.R.T when a previous organisation was closed down in the area. "I could see the need for a youth programme so I did some research and put together a good structure for what I was hoping to achieve."

Neville says he applied for funding through the Good In The Hood promotion after prompting from others in the community. "We rely heavily on grants to fund the equipment we use in the programme, particularly in the wilderness stage, that is how this money will be used."

Neville adds he enjoyed his time speaking to the public on the forecourt as part of the promotion. "We have generally kept a low profile but it was great being able to tell people what we do at S.T.A.R.T and how their vote will help us."

S.T.A.R.T take three intakes a year and are always interested to hear from local businesses willing to take on some of their students for work experience. To contact Neville or Clayton phone (06) 764 6225.