Joanne and Maya Heighes at the family centre. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News
Joanne and Maya Heighes at the family centre. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News John Gass

Family’s plea to save life program

MAYA Heighes, 14, "blossomed" when she did the REALskills Take a Stand program in Year 8 at Wollumbin High School.

She learned how to deal with bullies and how to be assertive when it came to drink and drugs, and being her own person.

Now she is excited about starting Year 10 and starting the Switched On training, also part of REALskills, which is run by the Family Centre.

The programs have empowered her daughter, according to mum Joanne, and have enabled her to create other significant support networks.

Joanne also did the Understanding Teenagers workshop under the REALskills umbrella, which she said was "fantastic" .

The REALskills program has been running successfully for 12 years, and is lauded by school principals.

Despite this it has had its funding cut by the Federal Government, and while it may be able to carry on until June, it faces closure.

The Family Centre has begun a campaign to claw back the funding needed for it to continue - $150,000.

They have a Facebook page and are organising a petition.

"If the program stops, the problems it now nips in the bud will turn into homelessness, overdoses, prison sentences and suicides," Joanne said.

She had a message for Prime Minister Tony Abbott. "Get out of your office and come and meet the real people to see what's going on."

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