Their newfound confidence shone through their smiles, as the very first squad of the Tu Maia Programme graduated last Friday.
Tu Maia has been formed by Te Ara Rangatahi, and is a six week programme that has been specifically designed to inspire and motivate ten Franklin youth.
The aim is to enable them to identify and action their dreams. Six squads have been established for the upcoming months, and the second squad began their journey last weekend.
At a graduation ceremony held on Friday 3 November at Castaways, the achievements of the first squad were recognised. Their mentors were able to acknowledge the confidence and growth in the young adults compared to the quiet youths that started six weeks previously.
The programme has been broken down into four components, the youth select a mentor, establish a path plan, spend a week away on an impact trip, and have continued support from staff at Te Ara Rangatahi. The mentors, who come from a diverse range of backgrounds, help provide coaching, direction and support toward career planning for two of the ten rangatahi (youth).
Their goal is to have every young person in Franklin engaged in education and employment, with statistics showing that 17% of Maori youth in Franklin are currently unemployed.
“These rangatahi have been handpicked from the local community, because we believe they have something special to give to the world, and just need some guidance to help them achieve it,” said coordinator, Marcella Maihi.
Aaron Rei of Tuakau College was a little hesitant about taking part in the programme.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into, but now, my advice (to future squads) is to take as much as you can from it. Your mentors work real hard for you, and give great advice.”
Applications for squad three are currently being taken, with more information on available on www.teararangatahi.com