Well-known social worker Allan Va'a is helping give teenage fathers new hope.
Manurewa's Iosis Family Solutions is revitalising its work with teen dads by appointing Mr Va'a.
The service, conscious that the needs of fathers are often overlooked in social services, has run its successful Men's Development programme, MenD, for several years.
Separate work with teen dads began in 2012 but it's now getting extra impetus with Mr Va'a's appointment.
He has more than 25 years experience in youth work and social work in South Auckland, much of it voluntary.
At Iosis he will work individually with fathers in their teens or early 20s who need guidance, support and encouragement.
"What we often find are these adult-looking men are just boys who have never grown up," Mr Va'a says.
"They probably started to do adult things when they were only six or seven. A lot of them have not experienced a proper childhood.
"Their idea of fun might be just playing computer games or, even worse, drinking and going out and having a fight," he says.
"They need a place where they can be young men again instead of having their guard up. They need the opportunity to learn how to become men who can bring about positive change."
The plan is to draw the young fathers into a peer group for greater support and wider learning.
"So, for example, if we work with 10 guys and they learn tools and attributes that would benefit their family and the community, they become a catalyst for change . . . because we can't do it by ourselves and they will affect the people around them and it will multiply," Mr Va'a says.
"I've seen enough changed lives to know we can make a difference, that there is hope."
The programme is all about leadership development, he says.
"We take these young men who are the outcasts of society, their family and their community and start to develop the potential that's in them.
"Then they can become leaders in their families, in their community and hopefully in New Zealand."
Contact Iosis on 269 0050 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or to make a referral to the programme.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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