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Finding her way

Being a teenager can be a challenging time; from getting through high school, choosing friends, puberty and deciding what career path to pursue.

No one can relate more to this than 17-year-old Te-Tuhiwhakaura Charlene-Jade Taunoa.

“When I was in Melbourne the first time, I got into a lot of trouble. I was hanging out with an older group of kids and would go out every night … it wasn’t good,” Taunoa admitted to North Media.

Taunoa has a Mauri background and hails from New Zealand. She moved to Australia in 2016 to be with her mum, but only six months later, she was forced to return to live with her uncle and nan.

"I basically got kicked out of home in January by my mum, because I wasn’t making good decisions, so I had to go back to New Zealand,” explained Taunoa.

Throughout the next seven months, Taunoa gained some perspective and was inspired to change her lifestyle.

“I wasn’t going to school, and had to work full time. I missed school and my grandma helped me stay out trouble and she treated me like an adult,” she said.

After talking to her mum, they made an agreement which saw Taunoa return to Australia to finish school in 2018.

But despite continuing her education, she struggled with finding a group of friends that had a positive impact on her.

It was at that point, Taunoa discovered the Huddle’s Active Boys and Active Girls program.

“Joining The Huddle’s program made me more excited to go to school,” she explained.

“I would wake up, and think to myself, ‘I want to go to school, so that afterwards I can go to The Huddle’.”

“I learned to play volleyball and how to be more patient with young kids and meet new people.”

A far cry from those early days in 2016, Taunoa is now setting her sights on a university degree.

“I want to study sports science or something to do with sports when I go to university,” Taunoa explained.

“I want to be a personal trainer or even a PE teacher. Something along those lines.

“Being at The Huddle and hearing about what the instructors do is really helpful. I love it and it has definitely changed my perspective.”