At 8.30am downtown Auckland on Saturday, 40 teenagers met for the first time ahead of a 10-day youth development voyage on the Spirit of New Zealand. Four of the lucky group travelled from Northern Ireland and the Republic as part of an Atlantic Youth Trust delegation.
The Spirit of Adventure tall ship, now over 30 years old, is a household name in New Zealand thanks to her and her crews tireless work creating potentially life changing opportunities for teenagers. Over the coming 10 days the youths will be involved in every aspect of life on board from cleaning to toilets to climbing to the top of the masts.
A Duke of Edinburgh Awards / Joint Award Initiative leader, Jane Thompson, from Antrim is also on board.
As they learn new skills, overcome fears and bond with a true cross section of New Zealand society they will fast track their own personal development. Ulster University’s Professor Maurice Stringer has been involved in academic studies on the Spirit of New Zealand that confirmed the prolonged benefits to the participants in terms of improved confidence, self-esteem and other characteristics that will stand to them throughout their lives.
As the youths are banned from using social media or calling home for the duration of the trip the next update will be on 15 January when they return to Auckland. The success of the Spirit of New Zealand is set to be replicated for teens from Northern Ireland and the Republic following the inclusion of the Atlantic Youth Trust’s plans in the 'A Fresh Start Agreement in 2015'.