Mayor Helen's Monthly Column

(Posted on: January 23)

Happy New Year to you all!

After a nice family time break, I am looking forward to another busy year working with our community. I am especially excited about our first Feilding CACTUS (Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit & Support) programme, starting in early February.  Feilding Police, Manawatu District Council’s Youth Focus Group and RNZAF Ohakea have joined forces to initiate the first CACTUS programme for youth in the Manawatu District. Salvation Army Education and Employment are generous partners to manage the catering requirements for CACTUS Feilding.

CACTUS is a self-confidence and self-esteem adventure training programme for young people aged 14 -17 years old. The programme is designed to extend a young person's mind and physical capability, with a focus on teamwork, goal setting, leadership and discipline. It aims to instil discipline and self-esteem into young people, encouraging them to look and listen before they act and increasing their future opportunities.

Students will be treated with respect at all times and given positive encouragement with discipline. They will gain pride in who they are, what they have achieved and where they come from. The emphasis is on teamwork, respect, instilling self-discipline, raising self-esteem, listening, thinking, contributing, deciding, planning… before acting, education and motivation, offering choices and making decisions and leadership development.

30 students have been selected from Feilding High School and Hato Paora College. These 30 students will train three mornings a week before school each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting at 6am. The training includes a well-organised, military style physical training session, followed by compulsory showering and team breakfast. During breakfast, the students will be inspired by guest speakers and mentored by the CACTUS team.

The programme starts off with a powhiri on the Kauwhata Marae and the final day of the eight-week course is graduation day ‘The Longest Day’ planned for Saturday 6th April. Students will push through physical and psychological goals as an individual and as a team member. These activities will be held in a public space so that our community, sponsors and family members can watch and encourage. This day concludes with a Graduation ceremony at Hato Paora College for all participating students, their families/care givers, sponsors and the CACTUS team.

CACTUS is run by the NZ Police in many communities around New Zealand and now our community will give our young people the same opportunity to improve their well-being and fitness, learn new life skills, become more confident and show leadership through teamwork. All the key skills that are needed to become amazing employees, future business owners and leaders in our community and country.                                                                                                                           

These types of programmes need our full community support. We thank those individuals and businesses who have contributed to date and we invite others to help us make a difference in more young people’s lives. If you are able to make a donation towards the costs incurred, it would be appreciated to ensure CACTUS Feilding is a success and so that together, we will be able to continue offering more CACTUS programmes for our youth.

Helen Worboys