We want so much more for our young people. We want them to have a “voice”, and we want them to have “choice”.
How powerless must a young person feel when they have to scream to be heard, or have choices taken from them? Kids in care have the least choice of all. They have no family member to care for them, so the system places them in the care of strangers, whether that is a foster family or residential care. Kids in care have the lowest school attendance of any at-risk group. The one tool that can free them from a future of poverty is education, yet they have little choice in how they can access it.
Those suffering abuse, neglect or poverty would like to be able to choose a safer family life, or choose to be accepted, or choose not to be bullied, or choose to attend a different school. When certain rights are stripped from you, it makes it incredibly difficult to see a bright future.
Options and choice give all of us a sense of empowerment. As adults we can choose where we live, who we live with, where we study, where we work, what we buy with our earnings. If we are unable to educate every child, we must live with the consequences of young people who cannot achieve what we all take for granted. A life full of options and choice.
Education is a human right. It is the only way to address poverty among our young people. Education gives them hope, confidence, ability, and choice. It saddens me that so many young people right here in our affluent city are falling between the cracks. Too many are not involved in any form of education. And they are not being counted. That is the true definition of “falling between the cracks.” They disappear from view. They disappear from school rolls, data systems, and they disappear from the “statistics”. Until they are ‘found’ they will wander aimlessly, feel worthless, commit offences, abuse alcohol and drugs, hurt themselves and others, and it perpetuates through to the next generation.
I am incredibly appreciative of our Ohana team who are finding these kids and connecting them with support and education. Words are difficult here. How do you acknowledge a team of 33 youth specialists who have committed their careers to helping the kids who are lost? I am confident that Ohana has the most unique team of youth workers you would ever meet. Our staff work in teams to create innovative projects aimed at engaging young people. The innovation and creativity shown by our team is mind blowing. We evaluate and document everything we do. We apply evidence based practices across all our programs. We are one of the few youth organisations that enhance every program with a pool of specially trained volunteers. Our volunteers increase our capacity to assist young people significantly. They are amazing.
Ohana is beautifully managed by Katrina Casaclang and I want to thank her for sharing the Ohana vision, and for turning her projects into something far more awesome than any government department or funding body could have expected.
On behalf of Ohana’s board of management, I would like to thank the Ohana team for their dedication, commitment and passion.