BOOYAH: Senior Constable Joe Ramsay (left) and Kaleib Bartholomew are turning things around.
BOOYAH: Senior Constable Joe Ramsay (left) and Kaleib Bartholomew are turning things around. Leighton Smith

At-risk kids being steered back on track

EVERYONE deserves a second chance.

When 15-year-old Kaleib Bartholomew ran into "a bit of trouble” - as kids growing up sometimes do - a helping hand was extended to get his life back on track.

Project Booyah is a Queensland Police-run mentor program helping at-risk teenagers across the state through a 20-week course that builds their career and vocational pathways and helps forge new friendships.

Kaleib has been participating in Project Booyah for 17 weeks and has nothing but praise for the initiative.

"We have a bond within each other that makes us feel like a family,” Kaleib said.

"We've been doing a Certificate II in Hospitality and outside of TAFE we've been going and helping out doing functions, cooking and serving people.”

Kaleib was going through some life struggles in the lead-up to joining the program.

"I was bit troubled. It was hard for me to go to school, I didn't like it,” he said.

In the weeks since starting the program, Kaleib has realised the error of his ways and shared some of what he had learned on the road to redemption.

"I care for people now,” he said. "If someone's hurt, I'll go up to them and ask them if they're okay and if they'd like any support.

"It makes me feel better inside knowing I can help someone else's life.”

Other lessons he'd learned were to respect his elders, not be rude and to be grateful with what he'd been given.

Project co-ordinator Senior Constable Joe Ramsay said Project Booyah had been running in Rockhampton for a year and a half and in Queensland for six years, helping disengaged youth to re-engage with the community.

He said the program ran twice a year, with candidates referred by schools, community organisations and 10 at-risk teenagers selected from an interview process.

During the program, students spend two days a week learning literacy and numeracy skills and working towards a Certificate II in Hospitality to improve their future employment prospects.

As part of the project, participants visited McDonald's North Rockhampton yesterday to participate in a work inspiration day where they were given ideas about their future career pathways.

"McDonald's has very kindly come on board to try and help us with a whole day of inspiration and try and get focus and see where we can take these boys further,” Snr Const Ramsay said.

"They'll go through a series of activities to really push them along to see where they might like a job in and see what makes them tick.”

McDonald's retail traineeships advisor Kate Jolly said Project Booyah and work inspiration day was a great opportunity for the kids to get their lives back on track and focus on what they wanted from life.

"We like to delve into who they are and what their personality is and bring out the best in them.”

She said the aim was to provide them with the skills necessary to prepare them for interviews and to help them get part-time jobs.



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