‘Boot camp’ brings out best

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

A group of young, un­em­ployed peo­ple from Porirua cel­e­brated go­ing the ex­tra mile to give them­selves ‘‘ an­other chance’’ dur­ing a cer­e­mony last week.

The 20 re­cent grad­u­ates of the Limited Ser­vice Vol­un­teer (LSV) course – a rig­or­ous six-week, vol­un­tary pro­gramme run by the New Zealand De­fence Force – told their sto­ries to Mayor Nick Leggett, MP Kris Faafoi, city coun­cil­lors and a group of em­ploy­ers in the coun­cil cham­bers.

What they had to say was ‘‘ in­spir­ing’’, Mr Leggett said af­ter­wards.

The course con­sists of team­build­ing ex­er­cises, skills in com­mu­ni­ca­tion, pre­sen­ta­tion, fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, job in­ter­view tech­niques, and par­tic­i­pants get a feel for what it’s like to work an eight-hour day.

The grad­u­ates, aged 17 to 25, had their hair cut off on day one and were wo­ken at the crack of dawn ev­ery day there­after.

In some cases, NZDF staff would en­counter psy­cho­log­i­cal and anger man­age­ment is­sues.

Al­though it takes place in a mil­i­tary en­vi­ron­ment and uses mil­i­tary bases like Tren­tham and Burn­ham, with the young peo­ple ex­pected to wear a uni­form, ex­ter­nal providers such as WINZ and Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment

Twenty young men and women from Porirua fin­ished off a morn­ing in the city coun­cil cham­bers, where their re­cent grad­u­a­tion from a vol­un­teer course was cel­e­brated, with a rous­ing haka. pro­vide as­sis­tance.

Grad­u­ates spoke of hav­ing pride in their pla­toon, mak­ing friends, learn­ing new skills, en­gag­ing in fan­tas­tic out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, and, im­por­tantly, work­ing hard to make a change in them­selves.

Tyrone did the course in Au­gust and said, while he wasn’t a bad per­son be­fore­hand, he ‘‘ wasn’t good ei­ther’’.

‘‘I loved the phys­i­cal parts of the course,‘‘ he said. ‘‘While I was pushed to my lim­its emo­tion­ally and men­tally, I loved it.’’

Dylan, an­other grad­u­ate, said he had had ‘‘the wrong at­ti­tude’’.

‘‘I was go­ing nowhere and do­ing lots of drugs and al­co­hol’’.

On the course, he said, he achieved things he thought he could not and his prospects were now much brighter.

Jay said do­ing the course helped him kick-start his quest to get his NCEA Level 2 and had ‘‘ cre­ated op­por­tu­ni­ties’’ in the work­force that were not pos­si­ble be­fore.

A num­ber of par­tic­i­pants had found em­ploy­ment, some were look­ing at fur­ther study or cour­ses, while oth­ers were ac­tively seek­ing work.

NZDF’s Peter Rowe, who was in charge of the course at Tren­tham, said its suc­cess is mea­sured be­yond what is achieved in the six-week time-frame.

To hear em­ploy­ers’ pos­i­tive feed­back made it worth­while and he was ‘‘pretty damn proud’’ of the way this group had come through.

‘‘It’s mis­chie­vously called a boot camp but it’s more about mo­ti­va­tional train­ing, giv­ing these guys life skills, a fresh start and an­other chance. The mil­i­tary com­po­nent is minute – a lot of it is about do­mes­tic chores and life in the work­force.

‘‘They work as a team, and in­di­vid­u­ally some­times, and you can see the con­fi­dence and self-es­teem it builds, the trans­for­ma­tion is ev­i­dent from day one. They are dis­ci­plined, loyal and com­mit­ted.’’

But Mr Rowe said they do not al­ways win. Two left the vol­un­tary course early, and about a quar­ter of the 114 in the Oc­to­ber LSV in­take did not make it through, of­ten due to in­jury.

Mr Leggett said it was im­por­tant these young peo­ple were cel­e­brated by the city, es­pe­cially in a time of re­ces­sion, as they were ac­tively do­ing some­thing to help find them­selves work.

Mr Faafoi said they had chal­lenged them­selves and ‘‘ shown the strength to get through’’.

‘‘You could have said ‘I want to go home’ when it got hard. You should be proud of your ef­forts and I thank the lo­cal em­ploy­ers for giv­ing these guys a go.’’

There are 15 cour­ses sched­uled for 2011.

Grad­u­a­tion haka:

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