The Salvation Army helps rangatahi aspire to achieve their best

By Regan Paranihi

The Salvation Army is supporting hundreds of at-risk rangatahi throughout Aotearoa through the Aspire program.

Many rangatahi involved in the program are either socially isolated or involved with drugs and alcohol and for many, this program is a turning point,

It an initiative that aims to keep young people on the right track. 

Aspire national coordinator Michael Smith says, "It's a medium for us to engage and support young people.  We do focus on partnering with the school to help them with the group they have needs with and often that means kids who are at risk."

Smith says its about fostering positive behavior in young people in the hope of giving them a better outlook within the education system.

"if they just choose to contribute to the class in a certain way ... actually they can get that tenfold back from teachers."

Facilitators across the country came together to mould a program that reflects the needs of rangatahi.

"It was about bringing together the common knowledge and experience we had in partnering with schools, partnering with young people in the community to help foster some growth and change."

However, without the financial support of key organisations across the country, Smith says Aspire wouldn't be possible.

"The program wouldn't still be running if it wasn't for the Warehouse Group.  We've partnered with a part of the Warehouse Group, Warehouse Stationery over the last three or four years with an 'add a dollar; campaign- so they're a key, integral part of the program."

A spokesperson from the Warehouse Group says this is their way of giving back to the communities.

"We have a responsibility within New Zealand to make it a better country.  So when more businesses support the youth or community programs we will definitely have a better New Zealand tomorrow."

There are currently over two hundred young people on the program and the Salvation Army hopes to increase that number in the coming years.