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Manny Seinafofeala in gym

Seeing young tauira grow in confidence and make good decisions is one of the things Manny Seinafofeala enjoys most about his work.

Manny works on the Youth Guarantee fitness programme for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Ōtautahi and brings a wealth of fitness experience with him.

But it’s his own background and the support and encouragement he offers that’s most helpful, he says.

“I’m a positive mentor for them,” he says.

Manny says many tauira come with challenging backgrounds and from tough environments but with good support and mentoring, they can make positive changes.

Manny previously worked for Corrections and says some tauira behave in ways likely to lead to prison.

“I’m seeing things I’ve seen before in prison so I’m having those conversations with the tauira. I share stories with them from my life. I still understand their language so I can empathise with them.”

He supports tauira to make positive changes.

“They come into our environment and they then have an opportunity to be who they can be and who they should be. They have a chance to affect change on themselves, they know the choices they need to make.”

Manny picks up the tauira each morning and drops them home each night and sees big changes in them during the course.

“More in their self-confidence, their ability to be able to communicate. I hold the hand of some more than others but I keep pushing and encouraging them. There is the support there for them.”

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