Taking the road to freedom
Justan Wilson’s life changed when he lost his young brother Rangitiriao Wilson in a tragic accident in September this year. Justan has become a spokesman and mentor for the new antibullying programme Freedom Road, which is being run by the Tokoroa YMCA. J
In November I was invited by Tash Wehipeihana-kaea to attend the first Freedom Road workshop at the YMCA, to help mentor rangatahi (youth) in Tokoroa.
My first thought when asked was, yes I’m keen but I didn’t know how I could help or what I could possibly say that would inspire and help the youths with whatever they were dealing with.
I’m just a normal hardcore hori Tokoroarian.
I like to work hard and play hard. So my attitude towards most problems is to harden up, get it done and save the tears for Oprah.
Before the loss of my younger sibling Rangitiriao, hardening up was my way of life. But after losing my brother, I could not hold back the tears. My aroha for my lil bro transcended all worlds.
He was a gift that can’t and will never be replaced in my lifetime.
The night before the workshop, I sat quietly in my room, asking my bro (Rangi) if he could attend the workshop with me in spirit. I asked for his wairua to guide me through what was, for me, a little bit out of my comfort zone.
At 9 the following morning I walked through the doors of the YMCA feeling like I was alone, and no-one there could possibly understand my pain.
But I was willing to give it a shot and do my best to listen to others, and maybe just share a little.
The day started out great. They gave me a free T-shirt. I was like ‘‘chur, it’s purple even, my lil bro’s favourite colour’’.
I noticed a few people I knew. Some were my brother’s mates, some from around town and some I knew also had recent losses. This made me loosen up a bit and made the rest of my day easier.
For confidential reasons, I can’t share too much, but I can honestly say I, as well as all the rangatahi and mentors, ended the day knowing we weren’t the only ones suffering. We are not alone, we are all special, and each of us has been given the gift of life.
A life to live, which is sometimes sad but can also be happy with smiles.
Freedom Road for me is about supporting each other, especially our youth. Letting them know they’re not alone and building future role models for Tokoroa to be proud of.
I entered feeling alone. I left through the same doors feeling proud to be a part of an awesome community.
FREEDOM ROAD: Mentors were inspired at a recent workshop.