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Operation New Direction

Operation New Direction has been operating its one-on-one mentoring program in Dunedin for thirty years and the number of young "at-risk" children who have benefited is in the hundreds. With volunteer mentors usually coming from the University of Otago, children get to enjoy the company of a young enthusiastic buddy to spend several hours each week with doing a range of activities throughout Dunedin. These mentors can be described as advocates,supporters,encourages and special friends. They are all Police vetted and undergo comprehensive initial and ongoing training to ensure they are in a position to be of maximum benefit to their "buddy". Referrals come from a variety of agencies such as NZ Police, social workers, schools and community groups. Once referred the family is interviewed and if accepted into the program each child and family must agree to co-operate fully with the mentor and the program guidelines. Group activities are an important part of the program also and these include a range of activities such as sailing, bowling, lazerforce and sports. These activities allow the child learn and reinforce social skills and managing feelings with peer groups. The program is free and supported by local business and other funding agencies although donations are also encouraged by going onto the website: www.operationnewdirection.org.nz