NEW RESPECT: Veteran Mentors team member Corey Neill with teenager Maverick Laskowski.
NEW RESPECT: Veteran Mentors team member Corey Neill with teenager Maverick Laskowski. Contributed

Teen's new outlook on life

RESPECT, resilience and perseverance are just some of the traits Maverick Laskowski is developing during a nine-day boot camp.

The 15-year-old from Middlemount said that before joining the program he had not been paying attention to his parents and doing as they asked.

"I was getting in a bit of trouble at home and my parents thought this would be good for me," Maverick said.

"I was excited when I was at home, thinking about the course and how it could help me.

"Now I am here being put through my paces - and I feel good."

Even after four days with the Veteran Mentors team, Maverick said he felt as though he had moved ahead.

"I've learnt so much already but I think the biggest thing is that I've learnt how to be an all-round good person, especially how it is important to respect other people," he said.

"When I get home I am most definitely going to be treating my parents differently. I am going to treat them better. I am here to work on me and I'm doing that thanks to these veterans.

"I really look up to these guys. They are good people who have served their country and now they are here with us, helping us to be better."

Maverick is one of 60 teenagers taking part in the Veteran Mentors junior leaders program for children who are facing a range of issues such as technology addiction, bullying and low self-esteem.

The program, which takes place in the Gold Coast hinterland, involves children aged nine to 17 working together to face challenges, without the means of technology and while pushing personal limits.

Veteran Mentors director Glenn Filtness, who served in Afghanistan, said he and the team used their military training to mentor and motivate youths like Maverick to better themselves.

"We are determined to help kids become accountable for their behaviour and decisions," he said.

"After much discussion we realised the best way for us to pass on the knowledge and experience we had developed in the military was to run a program that could support a wide range of children.

"Some kids who join the program may be demonstrating poor behaviours, low self-esteem, lack of respect, addiction to technology or issues with drugs and alcohol, while others may just want or need to be propelled forward to reach their full potential."

Mr Filtness said the program was proving to be a huge success.

"We are consistently seeing a significant difference in each individual by the end of the program," he said.


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