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The future is looking brighter for 30 rangatahi aged 14-18 who recently graduated from a 10-week transitions programme in the Waikato.
The group of 10 Huntly College girls and 20 students from Ngaruawāhia High School who were disengaged from school are now armed with skills that will help them confidently transition into further education, training and employment, Oho Mauri's Leah Crawford said in a statement.
“Our rangatahi would have faced many challenges trying to gain the right skills and qualifications to enter the workforce without having experienced the journey of the Oho Mauri transition programme.
“The reality for some of our rangatahi is that difficult life and family circumstances, poor choices, or addiction to drugs and alcohol can put them out of step and in the wrong direction, where poor lifestyle choices are made. As a result, [they] feel negative self-worth and are more likely to be disengaged, unemployed, involved in crime and have poor health outcomes."
The first programme was piloted with 11 students from Huntly College in 2020. One of the graduates of this course, Perry-Lee Aratangi, has since taken up full-time employment in an engineering firm in Napier, Oho Mauri's Lizana Tuake said.
She said the programme has given the rangatahi the foundational skills to set them up beyond leaving school.
The principals of the local schools involved have backed the programme's benefits.
Huntly College principal Barbara Cavanagh said the programme was getting students work-ready and into jobs. effectively "doing for students what schools to date have not been able to do."
"I am full of admiration for the team and their ability to always ensure that our students who are slipping through the cracks at school are given an opportunity that sets them up for life," she said.
Ngaruawāhia High School Principal Chris Jarnet is equally upbeat.
“It was pleasing to see the number of organisations who have supported the programme speaking positively about the students' achievements and the work-ready skills they have now developed.
"Future pathways have been established and students are now ready to take the next step in their educational journey,” he said.