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Youth addiction programme is working

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A new youth Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) prevention programme in Pahiātua is already showing positive results.

Funded by MidCentral DHB through the Tararua Health Group, and run by MASH Trust, the two year programme began in January and focuses on young people with alcohol and drug problems.

The service is based at one of the local schools for 24 hours a week under the leadership of MASH’s Clinical Leader, Holly Greenston.

Greenston said: “Two of us work with 23 individuals currently, so it is great that the kids are coming to us, but on the other hand we find it hard to cater for that many in the time available.”

Individual referrals come in from the school staff, police, GPs and parents.

MASH Trust Mental Health and Addiction Services Manager, Rodger McLeod, said: “We can see that we are making a difference. We know it is working and having a positive impact on the individuals we see.”

Greenston said: “A lot more can be done by communities themselves. Kids need opportunities and constantly say to me that there is nothing to do. They need to have a safe place where they can go to meet others, engage in a wide range of activities and develop friendships. We are working to instil a sense of awareness, change behaviour patterns and to develop trust but the community needs to play its part too.

“Ideas to engage kids can be really simple, for example, making sure basketball hoops are left out for use after school hours. A few things we have initiated ourselves, which run alongside our clinical work, are running a robotics course using our IT people here at MASH. The kids are really excited about building a robot. MASH is also putting up two scholarships for kids to redo our website. This again provides inspiration and another opportunity.

“It is great to see kids, who often have not had a great start in life, responding well.”

Tararua Health Group CEO Sharon Wards said: “I am delighted with the results of the service so far. I hope the outcomes for this work will justify and guide an extension into Dannevirke in the future.”

Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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