Give it a go
More than 80 tamariki in care from Gisborne, Manurewa and Christchurch have a clear pathway into sport through a new initiative.
Working together to remove barriers
There are a number of barriers and challenges preventing some of our tamariki in care from engaging in sport, such as transport and a lack of self-confidence.
Oranga Tamariki has collaborated with Sport NZ and regional sports trusts to reduce these barriers, and give young people opportunities to try out a wide range of sports and connect with other young people in care and positive role models within their community.
“We want to provide children in care with opportunities to develop new friendships, build confidence, find a sense of belonging, and develop trusted relationships with adults through sport and recreation,” says Karen Grice, from our Engaging all New Zealanders team.
Enriching experience for tamariki involved
The initiative starts with ‘Give It a Go’ events, which have been held in three pilot locations – Gisborne, Manurewa and Christchurch. The tamariki are then connected with a nearby sports club of their choice and their progress is monitored for six months to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme.
“We know that sport and recreation has the potential to improve outcomes for vulnerable children so we are tracking their journey to demonstrate that connecting them to sport is making a positive difference,” Karen says.
A two-day ‘Give It a Go’ event was run in partnership with Counties Manukau Sport in Manurewa. It was an enriching experience for more than 20 tamariki as they tried out various sports including basketball, athletics, badminton and tennis, and bonded with the coaches and other young people.
"It is ... great to see them networking and connecting with positive role models"
An “awesome” initiative
It was awesome to see the tamariki connect with each other as they are all on a similar journey and it helps them to settle their anxieties, says Rose Williamson, Manurewa care and protection social worker, who is working with nine of the young people involved.
“Initiatives like this help turn being in care into a positive for them. It is also great to see them networking and connecting with positive role models.”
Auckland Basketball (ABSL) coach, Peter Josephs, agrees that it is a great initiative because the young people become part of a wider sporting family.
As well as the social benefits, physical education is a must for young people as it keeps them healthy both physically and mentally, he says.
“I was looking after a young person who was with Child, Youth and Family (now replaced by Oranga Tamariki), and I knew they were self-harming so I introduced them to basketball and they would go outside and shoot hoops instead.”
"If you have a dream, chase it and don’t let it fade away"
Professional athletes show their support
David Tua, former professional heavyweight boxer, and South Auckland local, visited the tamariki during the event, and his message to them was “never give up in life” and “keep learning along the way”.
The event was topped off with a trip to Vector Wero Whitewater Park followed by a prize-giving ceremony hosted by Warriors rugby league player, Vaha Pulu.
When asked by one of the kids what the biggest challenge he has faced was, he responded, “I was rejected four times in my career but never took no for an answer. If you have a dream, chase it and don’t let it fade away.“
A clear pathway into sport
Karen and her team will follow up with each caregiver to identify which sport the tamariki enjoyed most. They will then be connected directly with the right club and coach.
Oranga Tamariki will support each sports coach with the knowledge and skills required to best support the tamariki, and will work collaboratively to reduce any barriers.
Joining a local sports club can be a life-changing experience for a young person, Counties Manakau Sport community sports advisor, Jason McIntosh-Kerr says.
“They learn about sporting success and failure, which is similar to life experiences. It is also a chance to make some new friends and meet a coach who could become a life mentor for them. We hear those stories all the time.“