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Paeroa teen Ella-Grace Tissingh

Falling pregnant at 15 was a big surprise for Paeroa teen Ella-Grace Tissingh, but with the support of the Youth Services programme at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, she’s managed to gain NCEA level 2, get her full license, and start up a successful business.

Now at 18, Ella-Grace is proud of how far she has come and the confidence and independence she has gained since working with youth coach Carolyn Walker.

“When I fell pregnant, I was still in school trying to figure out what I was meant to do. I heard of Carolyn through my teachers, so I reached out to her. We met up and started seeing each other every so often, and now here I am.”

“I’m a very shy, introverted person, but Carolyn mentions a lot that she's seen how confident I have grown. I don’t notice it personally, but so many people tell me that I’ve changed so much, and there's been so much growth.”

Ella-Grace knew she didn’t want to return to school after having her baby, but the idea of working a 9-5 job with a newborn baby was daunting.

That’s when she decided to start her own business, and with the help of Carolyn and the Youth Services programme, she is now a year and a half into running her lash business, The Face Space.

“Carolyn was able to help me with a deposit for the first lash course I took for my business. Since then, I’ve managed to build up a good client base and I'm booked out weeks in advance.”

Ella-Grace has already had her fair share of success since becoming a young mum and finishing high school, but she continues to grow and work towards her goal of owning a shop to run her business from.

Working alongside Carolyn through the Youth Services programme has been an opportunity for which Ella-Grace has been grateful. Although she has now completed the programme, she still admires Carolyn’s support.

“Carolyn’s been amazing and so helpful. She’s been there to guide me with what I’ve needed to do and say along the way. She’s just been so on to it.”

Youth Services is a voluntary programme offered by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in parts of the Waikato region to tautoko eligible rangatahi that are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) or are eligible for the Youth Payment or Young Parent Payment.

Kaiako, whānau, and anyone with connections to rangatahi in the Waikato region can get in touch with Youth Services to see if their rangatahi is eligible.

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Published On: 20 June 2024

Article By: Cassia Ngaruhe

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