Bridges impressed at community impact of Challenge 2000

simon bridges challenge 2000

Challenge 2000 was nearly called ‘Bridges 2000’, Challenge founder Kitty McKinley revealed to National Party Leader Simon Bridges at morning tea on Thursday.

“Society needs more bridges that bring together the different sectors of the community, and that’s what we do”, she explained.

Welcomed to Challenge 2000 with a mihi whakatu by staff, volunteers and young people last Thursday, Simon Bridges spent the day in the Ohariu electorate with local National MP Brett Hudson, and joined Challenge 2000 for a cup of tea, biscuit and a chat.

Bridges already knew of Challenge 2000 and its success, but was keen to learn more about this community and social agency which has operated for 30 years.

McKinley was quick to point out that key to Challenge’s ongoing success is the creation of a positive loving community where people can aspire to and believe that they can achieve.

“Long-term structural inequality and injustice is not helped when serious social issues are treated as political footballs”, she told the aspiring PM.

Acknowledging that serious social problems weren’t solved over-night, McKinley proffered that society needs a system that endured longer than a single parliamentary term, a mechanism which is accountable for achievements, is responsible and learns from its failures.

She highlighted how difficult it is trying to work with the obstacles, which she called ‘silos’, created by various government departments not working together.

Focussing briefly on last year’s “cluster” of suicides in Porirua, McKinley also mentioned she thought the country needs to do more to help our young, and the most vulnerable need to be identified and helped.

She says she is proud that Challenge continues to be such a help to society’s neglected people.

“Challenge certainly punches well above its weight”, Brett Hudson added.

Challenge 2000 Director, Steve O’Connor agrees. Working in schools, the community, and the youth justice system, “we do more than we are funded for because that is part of our ethic; we just try to make it work,” he says.

Highlighting the success of Challenge’s four youth houses, O’Connor says these community houses are based on family and family values.

“There’s a saying ‘love works’. And it does”, he says.

Bridges agreed, commenting that having a family foundation, where people know they are loved gives people a massive advantage in life.

Responding to the question how Challenge makes it happen, Business Manager John Robinson (pictured) said Challenge enjoys an enormous amount of community support.

“Everything Challenge has is either donated or given to us. We remain very grateful” he said.

Bridges and Hudson said their farewells on the front steps of Challenge, where two years ago the then Prime Minister Bill English officially opened Challenge’s newly donated premises.

A chat over morning tea became an hour-long visit.




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