CACTUS (Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit & Support) started at Te Puke High School in 2012.
At the beginning of the terms two and three, twenty students are selected to be part of an eight week CACTUS programme. CACTUS is a military style programme designed to extend a students’ mind and physical capability with a focus on fitness, team work, discipline, goal setting and leadership. The students enjoy the physical and mental challenges.
The CACTUS programme is a community based initiative that relies heavily on support from the Police, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Youth Te Puke Trust, Te Puke Rotary, community members and the good will of some of the staff at Te Puke High School and some CACTUS graduates.
Four teachers at Te Puke High School Including Steve and Tracey from Vector Group Charitable Trust volunteer to run the program as we have seen first hand how this program changes lives. We are struggling to fund raise this year due to sponsors funding rounds not aligning with the timing of the program.
The programme begins at 6.00am three mornings a week when the group assemblies to complete a variety of physical and mental challenges. After about an hour of full-on physical activity, the students shower, get changed into their school uniform and meet in the hall for a hearty breakfast, which has been prepared by parent and community volunteers. We are very fortunate to enjoy support from New World, Countdown and The Fresh Market to be able to provide the healthy and nutritious breakfasts the students need for the busy day ahead.
This police initiative was originally created to support youth development and specifically working on fitness, team work, discipline, leadership, goal setting and problem solving. We remain the only CACTUS in the Western Bay of Plenty. Our local policeman Shane Francis believes the program has had a significant impact on his relationship with youth in the community and he has seen a decrease in anti-social behaviour. We rely solely on sponsors, donations and volunteers to run this program.
Funds raised will be used to provide the students with clothing (2 fitness t shirts, 1 singlet, a graduation hoodie and training shoes), breakfast for the 8 weeks, food for the shortest night/longest day (12 hours of challenges), personal training and mentors, gratuities for volunteers, awards, all transport and administration fees.