Vulnerable youth can change for the good says PM

Vulnerable youth can change for good

The Prime Minister, Saturday, said changing vulnerable young people’s lives was more difficult than changing the economy.

But, they can change.

He made the comments when opening Marist Challenge House in Johnsonville, Wellington.

“The challenge of changing things in government, in agencies and the economy is relatively easy when compared to the challenges some of our young people face.

“Young people, 14, 15, 16, lead difficult complex lives, and yet they find it within themselves to overcome the most difficult and sometimes toxic mixes of disadvantage”, he said.

English acknowledged that historically, Government has not done that good a job in dealing with the most complex of families and vulnerable people.

“It is difficult for large bureaucracies with billions of dollars to understand how to connect with a person, a family, and most particularly how to do it on their terms”, he said.

Challenge 2000 changes lives

“Working with young people is more than providing a service to someone”, the Prime Minister said.

Emphasising that a quality relationship is important when helping young people change their lives, English identified the relationship needed to be one of trust, one that’s reliable, and a relationship that can withstand the test if things go wrong.

Enthused by the work of this youth development, community and Family agency, the Prime Minister was very pleased to join with Challenge 2000 and its extended family and supporters.

He told the 400 strong crowd that what makes Challenge so effective is “that at its core Challenge has a deep respect for the integrity of every person, no matter what they’ve done, no matter who they are, no matter where they’ve started.

“What this community has, and this family, and these young people have is what actually changes lives.” – Bill English.

“There’s a whole lot of things happen here in this place with these people and their values which you cannot get from a Government.

“It (Government) can support it, it can enable it, but it can’t replace it”.

The Prime Minister said he is constantly inspired by the challenges he sees young people face and how they rise to meet them.

He noted enthusiastically that Challenge 2000 works; it actually changes lives.

English commented he was pleased to see Challenge 2000 working with the new agency for vulnerable children, Oranga Tamariki, where we have collectively acknowledged, that a significant number of those children who most need care, have not historically had the best of it.

Marist Challenge House shows respect

The Prime Minister also congratulated the Society of Mary (Marist) for purchasing the building on behalf of Challenge, saying that the building shows respect to young people.

Commenting on the new premises he said, “Often when we look at the services which work with our most vulnerable they don’t show respect, they don’t look like places where we think we are putting people who are valued. And that’s what’s changing here.”

Addressing the gathering, leader of the Society of Mary (Marists), Fr David Kennerley, noted that if people only see Marist priests and brothers in church, they will think that being in church is all that a “Marist” is about; is all that Marists do.

Kennerley emphasised that Marist as a name has to mean something and Jesus Gospel manifesto of proclaiming ‘freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind and setting free the oppressed’ is not an optional extra but is intrinsic all all Christians.

Echoing the Prime Minister, Kennerley said the underlying ethos of Marist Challenge House is people.

He described the Marist Challenge House as a visible sign of what the Marist name means.

Local leaders lend support

Long time supporter of Challenge 2000, Ohariu MP and Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dunne described Challenge 2000 as the preeminent youth development agency.

He congratulated Challenge 2000 on what it has become and for its place in helping make young people confident, bold, and looking positively towards the future.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester also acknowledged the commitment of Challenge 2000 to the capital city.

“Challenge 2000 through their values of social justice, of the notion of love works, that if we put a tender arm around our young people, support them, celebrate them, we get them on the right path”, he said.

Earlier, the Cardinal John Dew asked God’s blessing on the Marist Challenge House, praying for all those who come looking for support and encouragement in their lives.

He gave thanks for the work of Challenge 2000 as it stands up for others, teaches, encourages and supports vulnerable youth and families. He prayed that Challenge 2000 would always be a light in the darkness.

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News category: New Zealand.

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