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Helping at-risk boys find confidence and fulfil their potential is a real passion and rewarding career for Thomas Stenning.

With a Commerce Degree (Finance) in his back pocket, Thomas, 24 is still planning to continue his current career as a youth worker as long as he can – because he loves it.

“My own experience with ADHD has always inspired me to help young people with the same or similar challenges to overcome barriers in their lives,” says Thomas who’s currently a Youth Worker with the YMCA in Invercargill.

Thomas Stenning

He works with at-risk boys aged 11-17 – most of them having been involved with the Youth Justice System – bringing his own understanding of not only social challenges but poverty to the role.

“I guess I know what they’re experiencing and so I find it really rewarding to help them find and build confidence.”

Thomas has always reached out to help others. At secondary school in Invercargill, he was a student mentor. Then while studying at Otago University he was a part-time mentor and tutor for minority groups.

Then, when COVID struck in 2020 soon after he’d graduated, the finance sector role he had lined up fell through.

“I returned to Invercargill and took up the opportunity to be a youth worker at the Y,” says Thomas who has also just completed his Level 4 Certificate in Health and Wellbeing through the business division of Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning, Careerforce.

Another reason Thomas loves his work is that it’s active and gives him the opportunity to be creative and engaged in how he helps his charges.

“I believe that spending time outdoors is therapeutic, especially for young men, and I base a lot of my work around the outdoors taking them fishing, cycling, and hunting. It makes a huge difference for these young guys, and I think we need more community support to help them in this way.”