Nor West News : December 2nd 2010
www.nor-westnews.co.nz Thursday, December 2, 2010 Kids Farm loses out Youth helpers: Alternative education facilitators Grant and Jan Gray are disappointed funding for Kids Farm in Waimauku will not be renewed. Photo: CAROLYN THOMAS By CAROLYN THOMAS FORMER police officer Grant Gray and wife Jan have worked tirelessly with at-risk youth for 10 years. They are devastated to lose funding for their alternative education facility Kids Farm in Waimauku. Eight of the scheme s 13 places for troubled youth have been moved to Waita- kere. The parents of two, who also have foster children, have already remortgaged their home and invested per- sonal funds to cover the run- ning costs. Grant says the murder of Kelston dairy owner Navin Govind by three teenagers in 1993 compelled him to do something. Those boys were essen- tially good kids, Mr Gray says. How did it happen? The former youth aid officer says meaningful employment opportunities is key to reducing offending. What happens to these youth that don t fit into main- stream? When you create an underclass of unemployed and unskilled people then crime rates go up. He says many students, especially boys, learn better hands-on and there is a lack of workplace training. Kids Farm provides Eng- lish, maths and workplace standards for 13 to 16 year- olds who can t attend other schools. Mr Gray says many of them go into trades and farm- ing. A police officer, fire- fighter and a carpet layer who now employs another former student are among graduates. Helensville is a small town -- it is isolated. When the youth out here have nowhere to go during the day they congregate. The Peak Rd property has a classroom, gym and animals including horses, dogs, cats, birds and a rabbit. He says animals help students develop empathy. I m proud of what we ve done but there is a lot more we can actually do, Mr Gray says. I d be lying if I said it wasn t hard but you still get up and do it next time. Green Bay High School principal Morag Hutchinson oversees the Waitakere Alternative Education Con- sortium which previously managed the service. The five remaining places for the nor-west area have been handed to Kaipara Col- lege. It s a straight logistical issue, she says. It s too far for us away to service. Kids Farm previously had 25 of the 100 places the con- sortium managed. Mrs Hutchinson says renewing funding is an ongoing struggle and there is also a move to more qualified teaching time. Kaipara College principal John Grant is disappointed. We are really happy with what Grant has done. He says funding for five places is not enough and he s in discussions with the Minis- try of Education. . Message from the PM John Key The National Burn Cen- tre at Middlemore Hos- pital and regional burn units around the country provide vital healthcare for many New Zealanders. They make a real dif- ference to the patients they treat and I d like to thank them for their good work. I m delighted the Mad Butcher and Suburban Newspapers Community Trust is teaming up in support of the National Burn Centre. Operation Heal is seeking to raise $200,000 for a high-tech microscope, which would be used in recon- structive and plastic surgery for burns patients. The National-led gov- ernment is spending more on health to make sure New Zealanders get essential services. High-tech medical equipment is very expensive, so it s great when local communities get involved in fundraising. I encourage you to show your support by making a donation. -- Prime Minister John Key Working with burn patients P3 Watch the PM at www. nor-west news.co.nz THE COST TO SOCIETY Grant Gray says the cost of youth offending is high. He says Waitakere police district's 2004 figures show the following: Each incident costs the country $1167 in youth court expenses alone. The total bill is even higher and includes associated expenses such as repair bills, council costs and insurance. 11,582 youth offences in the area cost an estimated total of $35.8 million. Youth court costs were about $13.5m. Ongoing invention and counselling services are not included. Costs such as Child Youth and Family Services, legal aid and police time on paperwork also need to be considered. Mr Gray received annual government funding of about $9000 for each student.
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