Setting youth on road to success

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The fact a percentage of Eastern Southland’s school pupils are struggling to achieve their goals is one of the focuses of the newly developed Hokonui Highways project.

The project is keen to encourage pupils to reach their individual potential.

Those involved wanted to make sure strategies were in place for young people to succeed, co-ordinator Lisa McKenzie said.

The Hokonui Highways project is being developed in the wake of the government-led social sector trials which finished in December last year.

The project had proceeded to the point where organisers were seeking to employ a project co-ordinator.

The use of a highway as a metaphor was Gore High School rector John McKinlay’s idea.

It conveyed the impression of a road on which young people travelled – that road was life.

Like roads, life also had its share of potholes, Ms McKenzie said.

Through early identification and responses, the project aimed to target children and teens who might be falling behind, she said.

Put simply,the idea of the project was to smooth the potholes and have clear signage pointing the way for individuals to achieve their goals.

“We don’t want children and young people left behind.”

The Eastern Southland Community of Learning (Escol) is involved in the collaborative project. Escol involved about 13 schools in Eastern Southland.

Ms McKenzie was also keen to strengthen the pathway from learning to earning.

The project aimed to maximise existing resources, she said.

St Mary’s School principal and Escol leader Annie Nelson said the new entity would cover young people from birth to 24.

One of the focuses is on transition times in young people’s lives, including the struggle from primary school to intermediate or secondary school, then to tertiary education.

Other big issues in life could contribute to young people struggling.

“Certain times are more challenging than others,” Mrs Nelson said.

One of the aims of the project was to involve the whole community in the initiative, through the inclusion of organisations, agencies and schools as well as individuals using their skills to step up and make a difference, she said.

There was a place for employers who might have a vacancy and were willing to give a young person a chance to be employed.

Hokonui Highways

The Hokonui Highways project has gathered representatives from a wide range of organisations to work in a collaborative manner.

Those organisations include the Eastern Southland Community of Learning, police, Hokonui Runanga, Gore District Council and the Community Networking Trust.

The Mataura Licensing Trust recommended through The Trust Charitable Fund granting the project $20,000 towards wages of a co-ordinator.