Loving making a difference
When Sam Kernohan was in his last year of high school he did a wheels, tracks and rollers course which opened a whole world of wonderful for the teenager. Once in the workforce he dabbled in retail, working at a checkout, stocking shelves and generally doing a little bit of everything but a lack of hours saw that fade away.
The 19-year-old didn’t give up on his dream of working in roading and finally, thanks to the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme, he’s in it and thriving. “I was on the benefit for a bit but then I got a call from the Ministry of Social Development and they told me about this,” he says.
‘This’ is what he calls his career pathway. “When I was at school, I wanted to be doing stuff, rather than looking at books.” Through the course he did while at school he had his traffic control ticket and through his job at ArborCare Tree Company he will soon upskill to become a site traffic management supervisor.
He joined the team in late June and has been paired with a mentor to work on his traffic control skills. “I like being outside and being a part of this team,” says Sam. “The best part is that they don’t mind about my arm.”
Sam has cerebral palsy – a condition he has had since birth and one that affects his movement. For him, it means his left side compensates for his right side. “The team support me whenever they see I need a hand and it is real nice to be treated like that.”
Sam has his own system worked out to compensate for his weaker arm. “I am really happy doing this work and I like that we are doing things that make a difference to our community.”
Sam is part of the team removing hazardous trees from roads all over the district. That wood will be cut into firewood and distributed to those in need throughout the community.
It is one of five projects that are part of the $23.755m Redeployment Programme which was established in response to the impacts of COVID-19 and aims to provide work and training for up to 200 people.
It is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and managed by Gisborne District Council. All those on the programme come through the Ministry of Social Development, with many others to ensure all not only find work but pick up new skills, qualifications and the opportunity of meaningful, long term employment.
Sam’s job will run through until December and he’s crossing his fingers it may go even longer. “I have definitely found my career and that is awesome.”
Photo: It’s all go for Sam Kernohan who is part of the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme and loving his work