Tue 6 Sep 2016

Sam flies the flag for WITT

Ten months ago Sam Haggart was leaving WITT to take up a job as a Youth Worker with Tutaki in Stratford.

Today she is an award winning Youth Worker directing many of her clients back to WITT to further their education.

Sam was recently a winner in the annual Romeo Awards, which recognise business excellence in Stratford.   She won the youth section of the Best Service Award.

Sam, 23, joined Tutaki as soon as she completed her Bachelor of applied Social Science ten months ago.

“I studied at WITT for three years and got a placement at Tutaki - and was lucky enough to get a job starting here on a Monday, having finished at WITT the previous Friday.’’

Tūtaki Youth Inc. is a not-for-profit, charitable organisation creating positive life outcomes for young people and their families. The project is partnered by police and is based in Juliet St. The Lions Den Gym and Fitness Centre next door provides a revenue stream to contribute to the running of Tutaki.

“Forty per cent of the funding for Tutaki comes from the gym, it’s a cool way for the community to give back to the community,” Sam said.

Tutaki’s impact on the Stratford community has been positive. Police project leader Constable Simon Howard said it had been responsible for a rise in the awareness of the damage of domestic violence while also contributing to a reduction in the number of young people entering the youth justice system.

Sam is one of four qualified social workers employed at Tutaki and three are former WITT students. She is also assisting a current WITT student who is getting work experience there while studying for the same degree Sam achieved.

She finds the work inspiring, particularly where she sees young people who are heading down the “wrong path” re-evaluate their goals and build their self-esteem.

“We see young people arrive here with very negative views leave with a very positive outlook,” she said. “And in many cases we are getting those young people back into school – or into WITT.”

Sam said she fell into WITT  “almost by accident” because she wanted to study, but did not want to leave Taranaki.

“I soon learned I loved the work and by my second year decided I wanted to work with youth.”

She also had high praise for the WITT tutors who helped her complete her course - Tiffany Apaitia-Vague, Lesley Pitt, David Younger and Kathy Shaw.

Tutaki had a table at the Romeo Awards night after being nominated in several categories and aside from Sam’s win it was also placed in the top five in two categories, best presented business and best new retailer.

Of her win, it came as a big surprise.

“I nearly fell off my chair!” she said.

For more information about Tutaki go to tutaki.org.nz