Throughout April 2019 Sport Whanganui partnered with NZCT and the Ministry of Youth Development to design and deliver a youth development initiative.
The objective of the Ministry of Youth Development programme was to provide rangatahi with opportunities that contribute to their wellbeing, build resilience and learn new skills.
Throughout the duration of the programme participants were exposed to a range of opportunities including leadership, mentoring, volunteering and sport and recreation activities.
Sport Whanganui used local insights to identify what youth services and programmes were already available in our community. This was crucial to ensure that we did not duplicate programmes or services that were already in existence and helped identify potential partners who could support and enrich opportunities for our young people.
This process led us to develop a partnership with SUPP (DHB's Drug, Alcohol and Mental Health Services) and Whanganui Girls College.
The SUPP Group was made up of six young people excluded from school. The Whanganui Girls College group was made up of six girls who were passionate about being outdoors and physically active.
While their stories and backgrounds were all different, from the first meeting it was clear to see that they both respected and appreciated one another's challenges and were motivated to make positive changes in their lives.
Phase one of the programme focused on building relationships with the individuals, making connections and building trust. The first activity was to set personal goals. It was evident that the goals were remarkably similar with many identifying being fit and presentable so they could get a job.
The first few weeks of the programme were spent planning experiences which would build confidence and knowledge to allow rangatahi to understand and identify what a role model was and value their own strengths. Activities included working with local businesses, sport and recreation, identifying and connecting with role models and hosting a dinner at a local restaurant.
Teamwork was another key area of the initiative. This phase included activities to build trust and understand what a safe happy team culture looked like. These experiences had a large focus on respect, being grateful to those who have made a positive impact on their lives and learning strategies to resist negative influence.
To put these skills into practice the group was involved in running community events. A highlight was organising the Turbo Touch tournament. Many of the participants loved playing sport but didn't have the confidence or money to join a club. Together they created a competition for students who were excluded from school or enrolled in some form of alternative education. In total 42 students came from four different centres to compete in this competition.
Feedback from tutors of some of the participants was positive. They contacted Sport Whanganui to thank the group for creating this opportunity for their students and hoped that similar events could be hosted in the future. They were pleasantly surprised at how calm and focused the students were after returning to class.
The experiences these young adults have had over the year have resulted in a range of successful outcomes. Successes of participants include increased resilience and wellbeing, taking a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, development to lead self and teams, connections with community role models, youth led events for young people across the community and participation in sport and recreation activity for rangatahi.
"It has been an absolute privilege to walk alongside these incredible young people during this leadership journey of discovery," says Whanganui's Community Sports Manager Jodie Brunger.
One student has been recognised for his leadership skills outside of the group. He continues to make significant changes in his life and is supporting his peers to do the same. As a result of the changes he has made in his life he was awarded the Oranga Tamariki Prime Ministers Scholarship. This entitles him to attend Outward Bound where he can continue to develop his leadership and mentoring skills to support and inspire friends, family and his wider community.
Sport Whanganui thanks NZCT, Ministry of Youth Development, Sport New Zealand and all of the amazing community organisations that were part of the project.