Feild­ing teen’s unique birth­day mis­sion

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Season's Greetings - SAM KILMISTER

A group of teenagers traded in the tra­di­tional party, cake and presents to help the el­derly, talk to po­lice of­fi­cers and dec­o­rate pub­lic gar­dens in a birth­day scav­enger hunt turned com­mu­nity ser­vice mis­sion.

Feild­ing woman Tracy Wheeler de­signed the quest for her daugh­ter Jamie’s 14th birth­day in an ef­fort to get her and a group of nine friends to con­nect with peo­ple and places of sig­nif­i­cance in the Manawatu com­mu­nity.

The group of 10 split into two groups, which com­peted against each other dur­ing the De­cem­ber hunt.

The mis­sion started with the girls sell­ing muffins for a do­na­tion at the Feild­ing Li­brary. They then used those do­na­tions to buy gifts at an op­por­tu­nity shop to give to each other later that night.

The groups then vis­ited res­i­dents from the Wood­lands rest home, where they read po­ems and sung Christ­mas car­ols.

They also had a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion with a Feild­ing po­lice of­fi­cer.

‘‘We learnt what the role of the po­lice was in our com­mu­nity,’’ Jamie said. ’’He also talked to us about about driv­ing and drink driv­ing.’’

The last stop was a visit to John Brem­ner’s art and print­ing stu­dio, Homeprint. While there they were tasked with cre­at­ing a veg­etable-themed flag to dis­play at the Feild­ing Shar­ing Gar­dens – a veg­etable gar­den open to the com­mu­nity.

Wheeler said she de­signed the com­mu­nity ex­trav­a­ganza to al­low the chil­dren to con­nect with peo­ple they wouldn’t en­gage with.

‘‘Com­mu­nity con­nec­tion is big for me. A lot of us live in­su­lar lives, but for our com­mu­nity to be alive we need to con­nect, and that was the sole rea­son I or­gan­ised this re­ally,’’ Tracy said.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple don’t even com­mu­ni­cate with their neighbours and that’s re­ally quite con­fus­ing for me.

‘‘It took them out of their com­fort zones – hav­ing to per­form and sing in a rest home wasn’t easy for them and they felt awk­ward – but it was ap­pre­ci­ated.’’

Jamie, a pupil at Te Ku­raa-iwi-o-Ngati Kauwhata in Feild­ing, said she and her friends now felt more in touch with the com­mu­nity. ‘‘It was cer­tainly im­por­tant. It got us in­cluded in the com­mu­nity and showed more of what’s out there,’’ Jamie said.

PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Rhi­ana Brag­gMey­ers and Jamie Wheeler were in­volved in a birth­day scav­enger hunt.

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