Teens tough it out in Cac­tus chal­lenge


Early morn­ing starts and teenagers don’t nor­mally go handin-hand but for 30 stu­dents from Kaik­oura High School the ex­tra ef­fort to get up and sweat it out at the school gym is worth the re­ward.

For eight weeks, three times a week start­ing at 6am the stu­dents and train­ers go through a strict fit­ness regime, which in­clude for­mal army-style phys­i­cal train­ing, sprints, cir­cuits, in­ter­val train­ing and var­i­ous fit­ness tests.

The pro­gramme is run by the Bluelight Trust com­mit­tee, made up of Sergeant Matt Boyce, Ja­nine Bell Spiers, Mike Lawrie, Dave Gil­lies and Tony Ankor.

Boyce said it was a joint ef­fort from peo­ple with dif­fer­ent ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence, and what came out was a very good pro­gramme.

‘‘It’s a big com­mit­ment and the pro­gramme is a pos­i­tive way for po­lice to be in in­volved with the com­mu­nity work­ing with young peo­ple. We get to un­der­stand the kids and they get to see us as a mem­ber of the com­mu­nity,’’ he said.

In 11 days time these tough­minded stu­dents will wake up to the Cac­tus (Com­bine Ado­les­cent Chal­lenge Train­ing Unit and Sup­port) Long­est Day event on Septem­ber 17, where they will face eight hours of gru­elling ex­er­cise.

The build up is tough. For­ma­tion and march­ing is in­cluded as part of the drill.

Hay­den Rush, 14, said the squad, as they are called, will do a spe­cial open or­der march on pa­rade at the start and fin­ish of the Long­est Day. ‘‘It’s good ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ he said. ‘‘I learnt to to go hard and try harder, and just keep go­ing and push my­self.’’

Claire Booker, agreed the pro­gramme gives her en­ergy.

It’s the first time the 16-yearold has en­tered the chal­lenge and she wanted to push her­self and do some­thing phys­i­cally in­ten­sive.

‘‘It’s a pretty big ask, and a lot of com­mit­ment,’’ she said.

‘‘We’ve learn to sup­port each other and en­cour­age each other on.’’


Kaik­oura High School stu­dents Adam Ford, 17, Michael Jones, 15, Dis­han Muthu­naide­lage, 16, Claire Booker, 16, and Hay­den Rush, 14, tuck into a hearty break­fast af­ter the early morn­ing drill.

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