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Project details

The second Teen Building programme run by Save the Children New Zealand, this project aims to support disadvantaged youth in the country obtain additional social, emotional, civic, physical and cognitive skills to help them in their future. The program engages participants in a mutually beneficial relationship which gives them opportunities to participate in matters relevant to youth, both nationally and internationally.

The programme is run in association with Mistletoe Bay Trust and assists groups of youths aged 14-17 to develop the skills necessary to be successful in their daily lives. The students are drawn from lower-decile schools, where young people may not receive opportunities which help them to realise their full potential. While the project is for all ethnic groups, there is a particular emphasis on those with Maori and Pasifika backgrounds.

A total of 41 young people were involved in the project in 2015, across three separate school holiday periods. The participants travelled to Mistletoe Bay Eco Village Centre in the Marlborough Sounds for four days of classroom learning and outdoor activities. The workshop covered topics such as self-understanding, positive mental health, conservation, problem solving, team building and child rights and responsibilities.


The Teen Building programme not only benefits the chosen students, but also their families, schools and the wider community through an increase in their communication skills, self-esteem and sense of responsibility.

Most participants have since become actively involved in Save the Children’s Youth Ambassador Programme, which promotes the voice of young people in New Zealand and overseas. These ambassadors have contributed to a range of different reports for Save the Children NZ, including one on the rights of the child being upheld in New Zealand, which has gone on to the United Nations. Other projects include Action2015; a campaign intended to raise awareness about Sustainable Development Goals and another report sent to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner on their views of education in New Zealand Schools.

Some programme graduates have also been asked to return to Mistletoe Bay as mentors for the new rounds of the Teen Building exercise.


Participants of the programme have given their insights into the benefits they received from the Teen Building project:

I believe that Save the Children made a huge difference in my life and helped me grow more as a person. At the beginning I was quite nervous and had no confidence at all and this experience taught me that before you give up, experience it first and then see how you feel. I definitely gained confidence. I love the work that was done. It was a very fun but educating experience. Leaving this programme, I believe I can make a change in my generation.” Adut, aged 15.

I am afraid of a lot of things but this Teen Building camp helped me see to give everything a go. To feel the fear but do it anyway. A great experience I will remember for a very long time”. Zainab, aged 15

“I became more confident and I love to talk to others more. I also learnt things that I have never experienced before such as kayaking and sailing” Sylvi, aged 16

In addition, teachers from the programme had some feedback of their own:

“The Teen Building Programme has been fantastic for our students. The students have come back to school with a real sense of purpose and with increased confidence and leadership skills. One of our students has just been elected onto the CHCH youth council and that in no small part has been to do with her going on this programme” Justin Fields, Deputy Principal of Catholic Cathedral College, Christchurch.

“We are a decile 3 school; many of our students come from low income and or single parent families. This limits our families and students in many ways. This programme provides opportunity for students to experience quality teachers and counsellors in a wonderful environment that parents and students are coming to trust and support. We would like this to be an annual and sustainable programme that can correct some of the issues our students and families face.” Patricia Siataga, Careers Advisor and Cultural Liaison at Catholic Cathedral College, Christchurch

What next?

We are looking forward to delivering the Teen Building programme again in 2016 with the generous help of Footprints Network donors. Their contribution of $20,000 AUD will assist with food, accommodation and travel costs.

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