Youth course teaches life skills, builds confidence

Tuesday 4 May 2021 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in National, Outer Islands

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Youth course teaches life skills, builds confidence
Girls in the Mangaia Youth Development course select their active wear for the programme. 21050303.

Youth on Mangaia took up all 40 places in a course designed to provide them with skills to help them excel in a work environment and in a modern society, by building on their confidence, self-esteem and motivation.

The Mangaia Youth Development course started last week and runs for seven days.

The course is facilitated by members of the Cook Islands Police Service led by platoon commander Aporo Kirikava, the Corrective Services, and with assistance from Mangaia police officers Senior Constable Aerenga Matapo and Honorary Constable Tearoa Maine.

The programme teaches and encourages discipline, leadership and team work, and also includes community projects such as clean up tasks.

Although there were more young people on Mangaia who were keen to take part, no further applicants were accepted as the maximum number of 40 registrations had been met.

Senior Sergeant Maeva Kirikava said: “Initially, the course was designed for ‘at risk’ children and youth, targeting the ages of 13 to 18-year olds.” For Mangaia, the participants are between 11 to 19 years old.

He said the course “delivers quality life-skills and leadership training; building up self-respect, respect for others, working within boundaries, self-care, team work and problem solving, etiquette and manners, public speaking and presentations”.

There is a buddy system where young people who are intended to be role models are paired with “at risk kids”.  

On Mangaia, the Island Administration has taken the initiative to offer their youth an opportunity to earn an income through the solar project on the island.

Kirikava said: “We take our hats off to them, and we currently have youth on the course that are part of this scheme.”

He also noted that many of the activities in the community involve church and youth groups and young people who do not participate in either of these activities “tend to fall to the side and are highly likely to be at risk”.

  “The challenge comes after graduation,” he said.

“As adults, we are quick to blame our youth for misbehaviour,” Kirikava said. “But one of the Pa Metua summed it up when she said: ‘If the police could run a course for the adults too, as they require just as much lessons in discipline’.”

“Wise words from a wise person.”


The Mangaia Youth Development course participants. 21050304.

These courses have been conducted on the islands of Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu, catered also for Mitiaro and Mauke.

Some of the main concerns in the Pa Enua were “behavioural issues that starts from the lack of structure and boundaries in the home; this was quickly established and accordingly attended to early on in the course,” Kirikava said.

Parents need to ensure that they have set boundaries and structures within their home, he said.

“There is a place for everything; work, discipline, and this includes fun which is a principle included in the course. The Bible provides some guidance in Matthew 5:37; simply put, let your yes be yes and your no be no. We as parents tend to say no but do nothing to enforce the no.”

The Youth Development team extended their appreciation to the people of Mangaia, the private sector, the Island Administration, Mangaia school, and the wider community for providing transport, accommodation and venues.

The course is based on the New Zealand Blue Light programme in partnership with the New Zealand Police and New Zealand Defence Force.

The course was initially run on Rarotonga by the NZ Defence Force.

Kirikava said it is encouraging that two participants in the Mangaia Youth Development course have indicated an interest in a career with the Police Service.