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Camps helping ‘at risk’ youth

Blue Light co-ordinator Amelia Adcock (left), Overall Merit winner Tyson Kawana and Reviewing Officer Inspector Hirone Waretini. PHOTO/SUPPLIED


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A successful week at a Blue Light Life Skills Camp has Masterton teenager Tyson Kawana ready to change his ways.

Tyson, 15, said the five-day camp at the New Zealand Defence Force base in Burnham was designed to empower youth to develop their leadership skills.

He said the camp was a great way to “keep me out of trouble for a week”, and there were plenty of learnings he could bring back to his everyday life.

“Showing manners and respect was a big one, and discipline in the way you talk to people.

“Knowing what to say when you’re talking to different people was important too.”

The program provides 14- to 17-year-olds with a residential based course, delivering quality life-skills and leadership training.

Blue Light programs and activities are designed to reduce the incidence of young people being an offender or victim of crime, and to encourage better relations between young people, their parents, the police and communities we live in.

Building self-respect, respect for others, working within boundaries, self-care, team work and problem solving are just a few of the skills participants try to develop.

Tyson said he was put into the course through the courts, and was thrilled with the results.

“It really changed the mind-space of how I think.”

He was awarded a top prize of ‘Overall Merit’ at the camp, beating a strong group of young people from across the country to take the award.

Self-discipline, self-confidence, participation and team work were the key attributes which helped him win the award of ‘most improved student’.

Discipline was something the participants had to show at every possible opportunity, even with basic tasks such as making their beds in the morning.

Tyson didn’t know any of the other teenagers when he arrived at the camp, but by the end of it they had all become good friends.

“I got to know most of the people there, and everyone was all good with everyone,” he said.

“There were no dramas and stuff like that.”

Tyson was shocked to hear his name called out for the overall merit award, and said it made him wonder if there was another Tyson among the group.

The week had its challenges, but getting through it had proved he could maintain his discipline and work well with others.

“I was kind of used to doing some of the stuff, so it wasn’t that hard,” he said.

“It was just about helping others to get through it.”

Tyson is currently learning a carpentry course at the Te Ore Ore Marae, where he spends time with other ‘at risk’ teenagers.

The course had given him a chance to keep his mind occupied and on positive things, he said.

“I really like this course — it’s like school for me and it keeps me busy.”

Blue Light Life Skills coordinator Amelia Adcock said Tyson’s award was well deserved.

“Tyson was presented the award of ‘most improved student’ as camp staff felt that he had significant and consistent improvement in attitude, self-discipline, self-confidence, participation and team work, and was always respectful to staff and fellow course members.”

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