Hard yards worth the pain for graduates
Getting up at 6.30am, doing countless press-ups and lugging posts around Oreti Beach was the easy part.
For a group of students from Te Wharekura o Arowhenua, the goal to pull two 6-tonne army Unimogs up Dee St in Invercar- gill yesterday was the culmina- tion of eight weeks of hard work.
Invercargill youth aid officer Senior Constable Andy Fraser said pupils from the school had been involved in the Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit and Support, or Cactus, programme - eight weeks of intense physical and mental challenges that targeted at-risk youth.
After enduring military-style training sessions three times a week, the pupils yesterday tackled their "longest day", which included carrying fence posts across Oreti Beach, moving tyres and water containers up Hatchet's Hill and pulling the Unimogs along Dee St, he said.
It was all in the name of instilling discipline, self-esteem and teamwork - and already the rewards were evident.
"They're really positive, they're more alive. The first week's hard, the kids fall asleep in class, but now they're so much more attentive . . . This group's really close as well. We've got kids through 13-year-old girls to 17-year-old boys, and it's just seeing how they all work together. It's excellent," he said.
After the Unimog pull, 14-year-old Harirewa Tairaki said she felt sore, but proud: "We worked hard and we achieved it," she said.
Twenty-four pupils began the programme, with 19 taking part in yesterday's challenges. Their hard yards were recognised at a graduation ceremony last night.
The Cactus programme was now in its fourth year in Invercargill, but this was the first time it had been run at Te Wharekura o Arowhenua.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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