20 years of pioneering service

Mayor Phil Goff,  Acting Principal Billy Merchant and Ceo of Young Life Trust Mike Turinsky.
A kappa haka welcomed the guests at the official opening of the Youth Worker rooms at Pakuranga College. Times photos Wayne Martin.

The official opening of the Youth Worker rooms at Pakuranga College was a truly moving moment for Mike Turinsky, chief executive officer of Young Life Trust and Howick Local Board member.

Acknowledging the gathering at the College on Friday, he said it was a milestone. Among those present were minsters, pastors, acting principal of Pakuranga College Billy Merchant, former principal Pam Stone, Board of Trustees of the School, Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, Councillor Sharon Stewart, Howick Local Board members David Collings, Jim Donald, Adele White, Katrina Bungard and special guest Mayor Phil Goff.

Television personality Geoff Thomas and other school principals were also present.

Talking about the community partnership that started with the College in 1998, Mr Turinsky said it is an incredible legacy by former principal of 17 years, Pam Stone.

“While the dedicated youth worker rooms are located in Wairoa House, an old schoolhouse from the turn of the century, it is the people within this space that make it magical,” he said.

Pakuranga youth workers do their part to contribute to the collective effort of helping young people reach their potential and successfully navigate their school years to become positive contributors to the community.

“The youth workers help connect students to the many opportunities, support and services available at the school. They also offer opportunities for youth to gain life skills, relationship and leadership skills and confidence to increase their resilience,” said Mr Turinsky, a passionate youth worker himself.

The  cheerful Waiora rooms are a space dedicated for the youth work team to run mentoring sessions with students, facilitate group life skills and self-worth programmes, while providing a safe space for students to retreat as a welcoming place to hang out during lunch break.

There are currently four paid youth workers at Pakuranga College, led by team leader Carmel Bell.

After the formal mihi whakatau (official welcome speech in Maori), Mr Goff declared the well-designed youth workers rooms officially open and addressed the students light-heartedly saying, “You are our future, and pay for our superannuation.”

He spoke about social media helping students to connect around the world and yet posing as a big challenge as there is so much bullying, peer-pressure, anxiety, conflict and matters of self esteem that students have to deal with.

“Look at our suicide rate, we could do better,” said Mr Goff.

“There are some things as a teenager that you may find difficult to discuss with your parents, teachers or friends and this is where students can get guidance, mentoring and help from a trusted group of youth workers, within the school.

“This occasion marks 20 years of the pioneering service which is now the need of the hour. It’s a good place to be.”