The founder of a North Auckland trust successfully changing the lives of young people, Gary Diprose, believes that love has the power to break down barriers.
“Every human is ‘starving’ to belong and feel good at something,” Gary says.
Springboard Community Works Trust aims to empower marginalised young people and their families with life changing principles, skills and mentors to bring about personal transformation and connection with their community.
“Many of the teens it works with are those no one else wants to help,” Gary says.
Based at Snells Beach, Springboard’s geographic area includes the rural towns of Warkworth and Wellsford.
“Springboard’s 18 staff bring a passion and energy to their work and are dynamic and inspiring,” he says.
“They aim to get alongside teens and speak hope and life into them,”
Rodney MP Mark Mitchell is full of praise for Springboard.
You can’t measure the amount of crime that these guys prevent, but they prevent crime – there is no doubt about that at all – they are having a massive impact in terms of making sure that the crime rates don’t go up but stay down.”
Gary’s own story
Gary was 15 when he lost his mother to cancer. His father remarried, creating a blended family. It was his father’s efforts to help streets kids on the family farm that sowed the seeds of where his future would eventually lead.
He sharemilked cows for several years, and that was followed by an invitation from Wrightsons to train young people in farming skills.
However, as the young people he was working with were removed from mainstream schooling, teaching farming skills alone wasn’t going to cut it. He needed a more holistic approach and involved family and the wider community.
To say the first few years were challenging ones was an understatement but Gary found showing the teens genuine love and encouraging them to learn new skills brought about new hope for their future which laid the foundation for what would in 2002 become the Springboard Community Works Trust.
The Springboard programmes
Impact is Springboard’s founding alternative education programme that caters for young people aged 13-16 who have been removed from mainstream schooling.
Go 180 is a programme that supports young offenders to ensure there is no reoffending.
4U Mentoring is one-on-one to connect marginalised children aged 8 to 12 with a trained, passionate and caring, community volunteer, adult role model.
Futureworks is a youth transitioning programme to ensure all school leavers move successfully into further education, training or employment.
Elevate is a family support programme that walks alongside youth and families to help them develop a healthy and stable family unit by offering practical and emotional support.
Vault, a work-readiness programme, prepares youth for the workplace.
The Hub is a school leavers NCEA programme where they can further their studies.
Marama was a school leaver who joined the Futureworks programme.
I am just so grateful for the people in my life and Springboard especially and the people there that helped me out so much. If it wasn’t for them I would … be in a bad place right now.
“I got suspended from school …
“I just didn’t care about school and then they just took me off the roll and I wasn’t enrolled anymore …
“I was just always in trouble, I was on conduct, I was in detentions all the time or I was always on stand down …
“And I was hanging out with the wrong crowd too, I was just a cool kid I guess …
“I was getting into drugs and alcohol, and sex and stuff like that, and then once I moved to here, it was like a different story, and once I got to know Springboard I was like, ‘Wow, these people are awesome’.”
Another example was a youth who last year was depressed and constantly considering suicide.
“He did our course, totally feels part of our Springboard family and is pursuing his next chapter with hope,” Gary says.
Spreading the model
The Trust has been sharing what it has learned with other like-minded organisations and the long-term aim is to make the material more widely available through a formal publication.
Founder, Gary Diprose, says the secret is learning to tap into resources and key people already in the community.
Spreading the Springboard model came about after a Christian funding agency offered the Trust $10,000 to start replicating it.
Eighteen months later, Foundation North gave a large grant to give Springboard five years to find four organisations to partner with.
During two years of searching they found four organisations that met the criteria.
The four partners are Motivate Community Trust in Dargaville, Outwest Youth Community Trust in Helensville, Thrive Otorohanga Youth Trust, and Rosetown Community Services Trust in Te Awamutu.
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