The Rotorua Youth Centre in partnership with Te Waiariki Purea Trust have successfully completed the first of  five collaborative progammes called Te Hiringa. Te Hiringa is a 10 week programme for 15 year old youth (ākonga) who are not-enrolled (or who are disengaged) from education.

Using a holistic approach, a bi-cultural learning environment and a Te Ao Māori perspective, this programme aims to support the successful re-engagement of ākonga in to education or the
transition into further training or employment. Te Hiringa includes outdoor experiential learning, aspirational pathway planning, employability and life skills, connection to education and employment pathways, holistic health and wellbeing services and support, creative arts programmes, and more!

Through Te Hiringa, Ākonga have had access to a team of specialist youth providers including adventure based learning facilitators, employability navigators, health and mental health practitioners, social workers, and community, cultural support and more! Having completed the 10 week programme, these young people will receive a further 6 months of ongoing coaching and mentoring as they take their next steps.

Ten young people attended the first Te Hiringa programme and achieved 840% attendance on a programme that challenged them and supported positive development and ‘next steps’ (transitions). Students participated in aspirational pathway planning; activities that built confidence, communication and teamwork such as indoor rock climbing and water safety activities; activities that built resilience such as hiking and team sports; employability training, health and wellbeing workshops, creative learning and much more.

Through this programme some outstanding growth was observed in each and every young person, many who had been disengaged from any type of learning for years. Barriers were broken, confidence was lifted, fears overcome, and in most cases, aspirations and goals identified. The next six months will involve mentoring them in through the steps of their plans.

Celebrating the small stuff

One young person on the Te Hiringa programme, being new to the region he had no social connections at all and displayed heightened levels of anxiety and disengagement. He was extremely reluctant to make eye contact or engage in any sort of verbal communication, with staff or the other young people.

In spite of this, we had reports from his whānau that he was talking to them every evening about what he was learning on Te Hiringa with great enthusiasm. Through individual mentoring we were able to identify strengths & values such as a strong desire to connection with people and worked to nurture these qualities. As the weeks continued we gradually noticed change. He started to interact with the other youth and staff, he started asking questions and eye contact became more frequent.

A breakthrough was seen through his engagement with creative youth development activities, in particular learning Radio and Broadcasting, where he suddenly gained the confidence and courage to speak live on a radio broadcast, interviewing one of his new friends and introducing several songs.

Now, this young man has a dream, confidently speaks and looks people in the eye, and is on a path towards his next steps.