‘A seed that fell from a tree in autumn, can one day grow to be a tree itself in spring.’
The ‘Buddy Programme’ run by Family Works, was created to provide emotional and social support to children. It matches children (Young Buddies) with carefully selected and trained adult volunteers (Adult Buddies).
Once a week they hang out, usually for a couple of hours, and provide friendship, support, guidance and encouragement to increase the child’s self-esteem.
Since the Buddy Programme began in 1992, hundreds of young people have been part of the programme. For most, the impact of the programme has been life changing. Sometimes is difficult to gauge just how much being part of the program has helped these young people.
Helen Bond, Buddy Coordinator in Central Otago, recently connected with Taryn Gray, who was a Young Buddy over 10 years ago. Taryn had plenty of positive things to say about the impact of Buddy Programme in her life.
Taryn joined the Buddy Program when she was about 11 years old, when she was going through a rough patch. She was faced with challenges and changes within her home environment that led to a serious knock to her self confidence.
Taryn’s Adult Buddy would pick Taryn up from school and they would spend time together once a week. Taryn’s Adult Buddy lived on a farm so they did plenty of farm activities. Taryn remembers the horses in particular.
Taryn remembers learning from her Buddy early on that that “It’s ok to not be ok.”
In their time together, trust was built and Taryn opened up to her Buddy and she helped Taryn work through those traumatic times. Taryn's confidence grew and she came to terms with the issues she had faced.
Taryn said she doesn't know how she would have coped if it hadn't been for her Adult Buddy. Taryn said it was "really helpful to have someone trusted I could talk to....looking back, I don't know if I'd have been able to deal with it if I hadn't had her".
The pair remained connected as Buddies for almost two years, until Taryn started High School and it became difficult logistically.
Taryn is now 24 years old and says she often thinks about her Buddy and wonders what she is up to. Taryn has recently began to consider becoming an Adult Buddy herself and looks forward to becoming involved when the time is right.
"It was the highlight of my week - I LOVED it".
Presbyterian Support Otago is looking for more Adult Buddies to volunteer in 2019. Full training and support is provided. If you think you could offer a child some of your time, please contact Family Works on 03 477 7115.