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When Jasmine “Jazz” Teleiai received her Level 4 Certificate in Health and Wellbeing in August, she bawled her eyes out crying. “It was the reassurance that I was on the right path,” she says.

The 23-year-old is a Ringa-ki-Runga support worker for Strive Community Trust in Papatoetoe, where she is supporting families into transitional housing. It’s the second role she’s had at Strive, after starting out as a youth worker, and where she has just completed her Level 4 Apprenticeship in Youth Work through Careerforce.

Jazz quickly discovered her purpose in supporting youth with their mental health

Jasmine “Jazz” Teleiai (centre) celebrating the completion of her Youth Work Apprenticeship with her manager Joanne-Marie “Joe” Lawler (L) and Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor Kailash Devan (R)

The half-Samoan knew she had always wanted to work with people but wasn’t sure how. After leaving school she tried dental assistance, working across high schools in South Auckland but she knew it wasn’t quite what she was after. So, with her mum already working in Strive’s transitional housing space, the team asked Jazz to join them as a NEET (not engaged in education, employment or training) youth worker.

“In my role, I was supporting very high-risk youth that were referred to me by a range of providers like the Ministry of Social Development, Oranga Tamariki, and Youth Justice. In my caseload, I had all the youth that were no longer in school and had fallen off track.

“The support was getting them into employment, back into education, helping them gain their driver licence but, most of all, we would focus on their mental health,” Jazz says.

Jazz very quickly discovered her purpose was in supporting youth with their mental health. She recalls the exact moment; “I was driving home from work one day reflecting on a particularly tough week. Eight of my youth had told me that week in their own words that they no longer want to take their lives because I give them a space to be seen,” she says. “That hit heavy for me because a lot of the youth I was working with, they were very suicidal… I just thought ‘man, this is what I’m made for.’”

By being someone that young people feel they can go to is what drives Jazz: “When I was their age, I wish I had that. I wish someone listened to me and someone saw me when I was invisible.”

Overcoming bumps throughout her Youth Work Apprenticeship

While still only in her early 20s, Jazz has found her purpose very young, and has been able to build on that through the Youth Work apprenticeship. But it hasn’t been without some obstacles; partway through her programme she changed employers and was even working up to three jobs at one point just to get by.

Not surprisingly, Jazz faced burn-out but was able to ground herself using some of the strategies she learnt about in her assessments, particularly from the first module ‘It’s All About You’. That’s when she decided to go back to Strive and into the transitional housing support role.

“As my schedule was very full on, the flexibility, understanding, and open-mindedness from my Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor Kailash and my manager Joe took a lot of stress off my shoulders.”

Strive Property and Tenancy Manager Joanne-Marie “Joe” Lawler says, “She is an amazing young lady with a level head on her shoulders and is not afraid to chase her dream. Whatever she puts her hand to, she commits herself one hundred per cent…We are lucky to have her working alongside the communities we service.”

Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor Kailash Devan says he’s proud of Jazz: “She does some amazing work in the youth work and youth mental health space, as having a continuum of support from someone of Pacific descent is very important them.”

Kailash adds that Jazz’s manager, Joe, has always been very supportive of her staff’s professional development: “She has been a driving force ensuring all the staff are fully qualified.”

Jazz with her manager Joe from Strive Community Trust

Moving onto the Mental Health and Addiction Support Apprenticeship

Despite the changes and challenges Jazz had to traverse throughout her apprenticeship, she admits that workplace training is still one of her favourite things. She enjoyed it so much that she’s now moving onto the Careerforce Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction Support.

“My passion is youth, and my purpose is mental health,” she says, “to be the light in the dark and help them navigate a way through.”

More information

Enrolments into any of Careerforce’s Apprenticeship programmes are free until the end of 2022.