Feilding teen’s unique birthday mission
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.
Rhiana BraggMeyers and Jamie Wheeler were involved in a birthday scavenger hunt.