At the far end of Victoria Court, 92 Victoria Ave, two personable young women have opened the Whanganui branch of LIFT and have already held their first programme.
Co-ordinator Leighton Kotuhi-Brown and programme facilitator Fonofili (Fono) Tafilipepe, of Cook Islands and Samoan heritage respectively, but born and raised in Whanganui, bring an energy and passion to their work that can only be inspirational to the rangatahi they want to help.
LIFT is a social enterprise and their office is like a classroom, walls papered with writing, one area filled with the students' concept of turangawaewae, for example. Music plays, the place is warm, the feeling is positive.
LIFT was established four years ago in the Hawkes Bay by Jody Hamilton.
"Our director, Jody, is from Whanganui, and she came down for a tangi," says Leighton. A discussion ensued about her work in Hawkes Bay and people thought it would benefit kids in Whanganui too.
"We launched in April and just had our first programme.
"We are an organisation to help rangatahi get meaningful life skills, to become more employable, and we also have a business fundamentals workshop to help kids create their own businesses," says Leighton. "We have a two-week programme to help kids learn more about who they are."
"How to connect with other people so you can be successful in life," says Fono. "Our beliefs and our truths; generalisation; cause and effect; behaviours.
"Our vision is to help rangatahi flourish in their chosen pathway or career and our mission is to achieve 100 per cent rangatahi employment or self-employment in the region.
"As long as we care, we try and it's genuine," she says, knowing it's a tall order but still believing in the possibility of complete success.
Fono also works as a mentor for Te Ora Hou in Whanganui. She says she and Leighton are also learning along the way, absorbing the content of the programmes and, in turn, learning from the students who take part.
"We, as facilitators, introduce the piece, talk about the content and what it means, but it's more for group discussion with all the kids and how it relates to their lives," says Leighton. "Our target demographic is the more disadvantaged in the 16 to 24 age group, but we have a policy: we don't turn anyone away."
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"We don't give them anything new," says Fono. "Everything we give them is something they already know inside of them: they just need a name for it."
At the end of the two week programme, LIFT holds a graduation ceremony.
LIFT Whanganui supports the development of life skills to ensure success in business, work, and personal goals. Their Bounce course has been critical in helping rangatahi make significant positive changes in their lives and move into self-employment and employment.
Taking a kaupapa Maori approach inclusive of all cultures, the course is delivered over a two-week period providing learning, development, planning and growth with peers from the local community. Bounce works best for young people who are trying to work out their self-employment, employment, education, training and personal goals, with youth from all types of backgrounds benefiting from what the course offers.
It is a FREE course and will complement work undertaken by all types of youth services and organisations.
The next course runs from July 12 for two weeks at the office at 92-96 Victoria Avenue, Whanganui.
Learn more by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org