ROCKHAMPTON'S Ryan Jericho has decided to take his first steps towards a brighter future starting at the foot of Kokoda.
The 14-year-old is one of eight local youths who have been selected to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Kokoda walk offered through the Rockhampton PCYC's Horizon Early Intervention Program.
Before enrolling in the Horizon program, these boys were considered to be at risk of potentially engaging in delinquent activity and presented with a series of risk factors that contributed to making poor choices.
Ryan said he was encouraged to join the program last year after being suspended from school.
"Last year I was suspended and my year level co-ordinator encouraged me to become involved in Horizons," he said.
"After 12 weeks of the program I learnt how to be emotionally mature and I was offered to be involved in the Duke of Edinburgh International Award which is to go on this Kokoda trek.
"It means a lot to me to be given this opportunity and even more to my family. I'm really looking forward to the hike and learning about the history of Kokoda."
The group, made up of boys from both Rockhampton and Yeppoon, will embark on their nine-day journey on Monday with two youth worker facilitators and the Rockhampton PCYC branch manager, Sergeant Greg Jones.
Sgt Jones said these types of community programs were "priceless" for the youth in the area.
"These boys are at a stage in their life where they can make some right choices and make some wrong choices," he said.
"I think this trip will set their frame of mind and help them become conscious of their choices because it's going to be physically and mentally hard. This will give them something they can hang their hat on that will remind them that they can use that strength to push through other life experiences.
"I am just so excited to get over the line with the boys and enjoy this experience with them."
This is third year of the program but the first time Rockhampton has been offered to be involved in the funded trip through the Duke of Edinburgh initiative.
Why is Kokoda historic?
More than 5000 Australians walk the Kokoda track each year to experience the historical walk that is considered to be one of the most significant battles fought by Australian's in the Second World War.
More than 1600 Australian's were wounded and more than 600 killed during battle with the Japanese.