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Sarah's Story
Bay of Plenty Times, Tauranga Bay of Plenty  06 Sep 2017
General News - page 20 - 678 words - ID 839493152 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 959.00cm2

BAT OF PLENTY I am a Project K graduate. I am based in New Zealand and was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to take part in the programme through my college.

Prior to Project K I had a lot going on at home and school. I relocated from my hometown of Auckland to Tauranga, away from my family and friends, and had to start all over again, which was huge, especially at the age of 13.1 had considered suicide and become friends with people who were drug users, and ended up in some really bad crowds, as this is the only way I could see myself coping at that stage in my life. I had minimal support, and no one to turn

to for advice.

My self-confidence was at an all time low, and was also given diagnoses of anxiety and depression. I was mentally unwell, and would have panic attacks on a regular basis. I was living with my mum during this time, who didn't believe in medication at such a young age, so this is something that I struggled with on a daily basis.

I was then chosen to enter into the Project K programme. I was hesitant at first and didn't understand how a programme can turn my life arund, and pull me out of the hole I had dug. I participated in full Project K programme from the start to the end with no regrets.

Without Project K, my substance abuse would have continued and grown, alongside my lack of support, I would have continued to have suicidal thoughts and never would have learnt how to cope from using a holistic approach.

After the programme ended, my self confidence had grown, I was truly happy with the person I had become.

I no longer had suicidal thoughts, and created relationships with my peers for life. I not only received support, but

also was given an opportunity to support others, which contributed towards myself gaining a sense of belonging. I managed to complete the grades I needed in school, and went on to complete a certificate at my local Polytechnic. I was able to gain employment and work within my community. I gave birth to my daughter at the age of 18.

The only way I was able to cope was using the life skills I had been taught through project K, while the stigma remains in place around teen parents, I had learnt how to ignore the negativity to keep my self esteem high and feel proud of the achievements. I had the strength to stay away from using any recreational drugs and continue to follow the career path I wished to by setting goals, and using the previous supports gained to do so. I was employed by a mental health agency at the age of 19, and am currently working towards my degree in psychology, as well as raising my 3 year old on my own.

My experience in mental health has helped me gain insight into skills that are lacking within our children and adolescence, as the majority of the clients I work with are aged 11-19.

Depression and self-harm within our children and adolescence are high, with children as young as 11 will discuss how they wish to commit suicide and will in detail describe how they wish to do. This is a heartbreaking thing to witness, and as a parent, I would wish my child to have the opportunity to participate in a programme that has proved to be so beneficial for all the children who have participated.

From a mental health perspective, children would benefit hugely from been given an opportunity to participate in such an amazing programme, and would be crucial in reducing the suicide and self-harm rates within our children and adolescence.

To donate, sponsor, mentor a young person or leave a gift in your will please go to www.dinglefoundation.org.nz/bayofplenty or phone 021992 613.

Thank you (JaAai * Not her real name Kiwi Can | Stars | Project K | Career Navigator | MYND

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