Youth at Risk




March 26, 2010

As a teacher and writer, one of the most satisfying projects I’ve been involved with is the development of Life Skills programmes for the DARE Foundation of NZ.

Many of you may know of DARE in its previous incarnation as a police-led drug and alcohol programme.

But times have changed. Now DARE promotes Life Skills through community programmes (as well as their continued support of and by Police) based around WHO, Unicef and UNESCO research.

This supports the promotion of ten core life skills to help rehabilitate youth at risk: Problem solving, critical thinking, effective communication skills, decision-making, creative thinking, interpersonal relationship skills, self-awareness building skills, empathy and coping with stress and emotions.

The programmes apply a biblio-therapeutic model centred around two of my novels for young people, using highly skilled and trained facilitators to help young people (from individuals to whole classes) — many deemed ‘at risk’ — to unpack the baggage in their lives and give them the skills necessary to lead more positive and healthy lives.

And the great news is that they are making real changes: Boys turning away from gangs; girls from abusive relationships; truants transforming into leaders… amazing changes that should give us all hope and impetus to support further growth of the programmes.

Some of the finest facilitators we’ve trained have come from alternative schools/facilities around the country — incredibly dedicated people with a real passion to help change the lives of kids who have slipped between the cracks.

Believe me, some of these kids are really hard work, requiring special handling and loads of time, yet the effort is more than paid off by facilitating change to produce more socialised and connected members of our society. So what’s my gripe?

The National Government is currently mooting the removal of funding from alternative education facilities, wanting to push these kids back into the mainstream schools.

This defies logic. These kids require specialist help, not forcing them back into classrooms (if you can get them there) where they will do nothing bar disrupt the lives of those around them.

alternative schools are succeeding — they are taking kids destined for welfare dependency and crime and rehabilitating them back into responsible willing learners and citizens… How could National consider for a moment changing this?

Equally as concerning is the drying up of funds that community organisations such as DARE now face.

Like many other voluntary agencies (ambulances at the bottom of many underfunded and potentially deadly cliffs), DARE’s future relies on funding applications.

No money, no DARE. No DARE, no more training and expanding of programmes. No programmes, no changing kids’ lives. No changing kids’ lives, no security in communities…

It makes me sad and frustrated to see something that is working so well being slowly but surely eroded by a government who should, instead, be supporting the kind of positive changes the community have worked so hard to put in place.

`Run for the Trees` by Mandy Hager –  Used for the programme called `Dare To Be You`

`Smashed`                by Mandy Hager – Used for the programme calle

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.