Home » World » Charity turns around a failing tourist attraction, and young lives, at the same time – World news

Charity turns around a failing tourist attraction, and young lives, at the same time – World news

Charity turns around a failing tourist attraction, and young lives, at the same time – World news

A North Auckland support group may have found the answer to the region’s problem of neglected youths being involved in ramraids – by teaching them to take care of rams and other animals.

The iconic Sheepworld tourist attraction north of Warkworth was saved from going under at the last minute when it was recently bought by youth charity Springboard.

It is now being used to help at-risk young people get a fresh start by providing mentoring and opportunities to learn new skills.

Its young farmhands will be involved with animal care, including feeding calves, shearing sheep and rearing piglets.

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Springboard managing director Gary Diprose said he had been looking for a new location when Sheepworld came on the market.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could pull it off. I was looking for two hectares, not an 11 hectare farm,” Diprose said.

Feeding calves at Sheepworld.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

Feeding calves at Sheepworld.

There has been a growing demand for Springboard’s services. It has 30 staff, 10 targeted programmes and last year worked with 240 children and youths from the North Auckland area.

Springboard runs an “alternative education’ programme for young people. This week’s lesson is brushing donkeys.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

Springboard runs an “alternative education’ programme for young people. This week’s lesson is brushing donkeys.

“We work with young people who are at risk because we believe that people deserve an equal opportunity regardless of their upbringing,” Diprose said.

Their programmes include early identification and intervention for children aged 8 and above. Springboard also works with young people up to the age of 25, supporting them into employment.

Young people are paired with a mentor, taught life skills and have access to counselling from a social worker.

“Working with animals will also be massively therapeutic for young people who might have disengaged due to having high anxiety. It brings them forward,” Diprose said.

Springboard managing director Gary Diprose, left, with some of the young people keen to learn how to shear sheep and rear animals.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

Springboard managing director Gary Diprose, left, with some of the young people keen to learn how to shear sheep and rear animals.

Diprose said that the trend of young people carrying out ramraids in Auckland was concerning, but tougher penalties were not the answer.

“I am definitely a believer that if kids are doing ramraids, they urgently need a voice of positivity in their corner speaking up for them. If they don’t get that, it will only increase their bitterness and hurt as they get older.”

Diprose said that the pandemic had “really knocked Sheepworld from its former glory” but big plans were in the works to bring new life to the iconic attraction which has reopned to the public.

Tourists at Sheepworld can see how a heading dog rounds up sheep on a working farm.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

Tourists at Sheepworld can see how a heading dog rounds up sheep on a working farm.

Over coming months Sheepworld intends to introduce more animals and in the meantime the sheepdog show has been revived, where visitors can see a working dog in action following complex whistle commands, leaping over fences and expertly herding sheep.

Diprose said he was confident that tourists would “return with a vengeance”. Around 800 people visited during an open day this month.

The new site is directly at the end of the new Puhoi to Warkworth motorway to be completed next year.

The Sheepworld premises has provided room to expand for Springboard’s fast-growing programmes.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

The Sheepworld premises has provided room to expand for Springboard’s fast-growing programmes.

“Our main goal is still to make sure that young people are ready for employment and are confident in real life working environment, but we also want to build Sheepworld as a top-quality destination with an important social purpose,” Diprose said.

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