Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it that can have the biggest impact.
That’s why youth worker Mana Harema is careful to use an empowering tone and language when he connects with young people.
“We just want to walk alongside young people who are having a tough time, as their adult but friendly figures who are helping them through that stage in their lives,” Mana says.
“Young people are capable, and at times just need a guiding hand.”
He’s a 24-7 youth worker with the La Vida Youth Trust to promote a greater connection between young people, their families, schools and the community in the Riccarton area.
Mana is also a community worker, supporting people who are potentially falling through the gaps, helping to connect them into the wider community and to find ways for them to make their own contribution.
He provides safe group activities and sports for youth, role modelling, mentoring and helps them gain access to services where necessary, challenging anti-social behaviours along the way.
His approach is paying dividends, with problems such as graffiti virtually disappearing since he started supporting young people in the area.
“That was achieved just through connection,” Mana says.
“So instead of judging and being negative about people who are not doing a great thing, our approach was to build relationships with them.”
He is moved to be a Westfield Local Hero. “I don’t think you can get better recognition than that, personally or for the Trust as well. It’s a massive acknowledgement of the Trust doing good work in its local community.”
La Vida Youth Trust will use its $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant to run junior sports programs for 40 weeks and to continue funding Mana’s role.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.