Tom's transformation through his involvement at Youth Encounter is truly remarkable. Tom was referred to Youth Encounter by a parent who expressed a desperate need for our help. Before engaging with Youth Encounter, Tom struggled with overwhelming anxiety, frequent bullying from his peers, lacked confidence and resorted to self-harming behavior's due to these challenges. His referral reported that from the time he entered playgroup as a young child, he had been labeled as a loud, rough, naughty instigator. His future seemed bleak, and he found it difficult to focus ahead, trapped in a cycle of negativity.
With the facilitation of the Youth Encounter team, Tom engaged in Clinical Counselling sessions and personalized activities tailored to his needs in our Specialized Connect mentoring programme. Participating in activities like dirt biking, surfing, disc golf, and baking—activities outside his comfort zone—was pivotal in reshaping his perspective. The team’s empowering words played a crucial role in bolstering Tom's self-worth and sense of value.
Through the counselling process, using the Te Whare Tapa Wha well-being model, Tom explored his spirituality and beliefs, discovering a new way to perceive himself. This exploration allowed him to better understand and utilize his values, leading to a marked improvement in his social and personal well-being. As a result, Tom's focus shifted towards a hopeful future, driving him to prepare for it and acquire new skills (whai wāhitanga) that would pave the way for his success.
Now, Tom displays confidence and readiness when attending sessions. A moment that encapsulated his progress was when he took to the dirt bike track for the first time. His pride was evident, sparking a new energy within him. This transformation was so profound that even his mother, observing from the deck, was moved to tears, witnessing the significant positive changes in Tom's life thanks to his involvement at Youth Encounter. Tom now stands empowered to not only contribute to society but also to inspire others to embrace life with an open perspective. Tom's journey at Youth Encounter has indeed unleashed his potential, allowing him to embrace living life wide open.
When asked, what could have made your experience at Youth Encounter better, Tom responded with… "Nothing could have made it better - Youth Encounter is good as it is - it will help many other kids deal with their social anxiety to".
From his parent...
"I truly can't articulate exactly what it has done for him so far and how much it has strengthened his self esteem and belief- I choke up when I try to find the words.
He laughs and jokes, he listens to respond rather react, he reflects calmly and his self talk is 95% more positive, he holds his head high, he takes pride in himself, he respects himself and isn't harming himself when frustrated anymore, he walks taller - I can't explain it, it's like an imaginary weight has been lifted off his shoulders.
Youth Encounter has given our son a safe and non-judgmental space to find himself again, to know it's ok to be who he is and to strive every day to HIS OWN fullest potential and not shy away from who he is, he is slowly accepting and becoming comfortable in himself in his own skin, no longer trying fit in but stand out as he is, I see and feel his Wairua shining brighter every single day.
Thank you for being a part of our journey as a whanau and helping us all directly and indirectly be a better, stronger united tight-knit unit."
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