Dad not there but mentors are
When Abby Aloiai was a little girl she promised her father he'd be her date to the school ball.
Unfortunately he never got the chance to accompany the 15-year-old.
Miss Aloiai's father died suddenly when she was just 10.
Tonight the Kelston Girls College student is getting dressed up for a night out, but it's not for the school ball.
This week she's taking part in the annual Prime Minister's Youth Programme.
It culminates in a celebratory dinner with fellow participants and Prime Minister John Key.
Miss Aloiai was nominated for the programme by 24-7 youth worker Lydia Ta'ala whom she met through the school and Glendene's Church Unlimited.
The programme has been running since 2009 and involves 100 youths aged between 14 and 17 from across Auckland.
Participants take part in a series of daytime mentoring activities with a variety of famous faces and professionals.
The aim is to encourage young people to overcome challenges and make positive changes to their lives.
Among this year's mentors is master chef Michael Meredith, designers from Saatchi and Saatchi, Tagata Pasifika presenter Marama Papau and New Zealand sevens and touch rugby player Tyla Nathan-Wong.
Miss Aloiai says as a child it didn't hit her straight away that her dad wouldn't be around when she needed him.
As a teenager she's missed him more than ever.
The programme is an opportunity for her to make friends and learn from others.
"I'm interested to hear how they got to where they are now and how they became so successful," she says.
"There aren't too many people who got selected for the programme so I'm grateful for the opportunity."
Miss Ta'ala says some of the mentors have had a tough past themselves but have been able to turn their lives around.
"It's about letting them see there is a light at the end of of the tunnel," she says.
- Western Leader
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