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ActiveVoice: Keeping our young people engaged

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The WBOP Youth Engagement team recently ran a fun sports-orientated event for Toi Ohomai.

“Why sit at home and do nothing? Why not come here and do something proactive in the community?”

That is exactly the pitch the young people in our Youth Engagement Programme receive on first introductions – and some of them gladly accept the challenge.

The Youth Engagement Programme uses sport to empower youth in the Bay. We do this by increasing participation in sport for young adults – not just as athletes, but as a volunteer coach, manager or being an essential volunteer in a sporting club.

None of our young people were forced to come and try this programme – it was their decision. But upon arrival, the individuals are asked to sign a contract. Yes – a contract! This is the first step towards a binding relationship agreed to by both parties. In simple terms, it defines the negotiables and nonnegotiable actions and behaviors of those within.

Our goal is always about getting this segment of the population into full-time employment or back in to further education. Some might consider our methods unorthodox, but we use sport and recreation as a means of teaching some of the core values of life such as trust, respect, commitment, honesty, integrity and teamwork.

And the results speak for themselves. Recently, one of the youth was asked why she chose to engage in the programme. She replied, “It allows us to do stuff with people outside our families”.

Four weeks later, this particular individual has been involved in three primary school sporting events, a four-day leadership camp at Mayor Island and numerous fitness classes.

General fitness and personal hygiene are important elements of this programme promoting personal pride and appearance, as well as giving the group good reason to rise in the morning. What better way to start the day and on a positive note? None of them would have ever dreamed of doing this in the past and now they say it has become habit.

I am happy to say four of the five young people in the Eastern Bay of Plenty programme have been more motivated than ever in gaining full-time employment. As recent as last week, one of them gained his full drivers license and is now looking to complete his HT.

Another has been offered a role with an offshore fishing company, but must first complete a 16-week training course in Westport, and the other two are preparing themselves for a Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) course.

Sometimes, for people to appreciate their own backyard, they need to check out other people’s backyards.

Click here for more information about the Youth Engagement Programme.

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