A youth programme introduced at Mountainview High School this year has seen bullying decrease and student confidence increase, school leaders say.
Two youth workers, Tim Marshall and Hollie Marett, have been employed at the school since the start of the year through the Timaru Presbyterian Parish, the school and other organisations, as part of the national 24/7 Youthwork programme.
The pair spend the lunch hour at the school, working out of the school meeting room, as well as hosting a range of activities. Students are free to visit them for guidance.
"It's being available to the kids during lunchtime," Ms Marett said.
"We're here for them just across the board. We also do a girls programme and boys programme, and leadership training with the student executive."
The programmes focussed on things like life skills and self esteem, she said.
Most of the issues students came to them with were around life issues, relationship issues and things happening at home. Mr Marshall said it took a couple of terms to set the foundations for the programme.
"But now it's been great. The main thing is we just provide a good role model for them . . . being someone they can aspire to be."
Ms Marett said although there was a "settling in period", they now felt part of the school.
24/7 Youthwork is a nationally run programme but this is the first time it has been introduced in Timaru.
"It's really exciting because it's already out there . . . but it's just not been trialled in Timaru," Ms Marett said.
"We're hoping if it works well other schools will want it."
Already other schools had indicated they were interested, she said.
Mountainview High School deputy principal Liz Peters said students found the support "very useful".
"It's informal and formal. It's entirely voluntary (for students). They support the students in a variety of different forms.
"Students who have been [reluctant] in jumping in things . . . are getting involved more."
She said the relationships between students had improved and instances of bullying had decreased.
"Because the kids have more project work to do there's probably less opportunity."
- The Timaru Herald