Whai Te Riini. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

Emily Ireland

Before meeting Wairarapa’s Youth Service team, Whai Te Riini believed she had nothing going for her.

She had dropped out of school at a young age and had no employment, no motivation, and no seemingly no opportunities.

“I never left the house; there were many days where I wouldn’t even take a single step outside – it was disgustingly unhealthy”.

Now, aged 18, Whai has a new outlook on life, an ongoing education, and a newfound happiness – thanks to the Youth Services Team.

Whai first connected with Youth Service earlier this year, which is part of the Wairarapa Safer Community Trust based in Carterton.

Youth Service works with young people not enrolled in education, employment, or training and provides young people with guidance, support, and encouragement to help them re-enter education or employment.

Whai said dropping out of high school too early was a choice she regrets making.

“As the days turned into months, I realised the things I was missing out on – more than just education – like prom for example.

“I didn’t even realise that I wanted those things until I couldn’t have it.

“By the time I deemed myself ready to re-join civilisation, many doors of opportunity weren’t open to me anymore.”

Whai signed up to a course, but soon flunked – “I just wasn’t in the right head space and I had no support or even an idea of what I was doing”.

“When I felt like I was at my lowest, feeling helpless and overall lost, the team at Youth Service metaphorically picked me up and pushed me in the right direction.

“They helped me understand what I needed and helped me chase it.”

At Whai’s first encounter with the Youth Service team, her education journey was put back on track with a course enrolment meeting.

“Now, thanks to Youth Service and their amazing youth coaches, I have an ongoing education, great friends, a new outlook on life, and most importantly motivation, goals, and happiness.

“Youth Service helped me realise that I’m no longer alone.

A lesson Whai’s youth coach taught her was perseverance – “I can’t throw the towel in until I have exercised all of the possibilities”.

To get in touch with Youth Service Wairarapa, contact Youth Services team leader Loraine Mitchell on 06 379 5407 extn: 714, or email lorrainem@waisct.org.nz