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Darren Friend is a man on a mission – an excellent mission to give a helping hand of hope to homeless youth in Sydney’s inner west.
Mr Friend studied a Certificate IV in Youth Work with TAFE Digital to add to his more than 20 years’ martial arts experience, with the burning desire to put a tiny dent into helping the staggering 43,552 homeless youth across Australia.
“I opened our Aikido Yoshinkai dojo in Marrickville with my wife in 2005 after training and teaching in Japan for over 10 years, so was already working with youth,” he said. “This led me to making contact with high needs youth, which I found more challenging and rewarding.”
Mr Friend researched the most appropriate course to deepen his knowledge and upgrade his qualifications to make a positive difference.
“TAFE NSW came highly recommended as an educator of note with nationally accredited youth oriented courses,” said Mr Friend. “I chose to study online, as it was a good fit with my busy work schedule and I could do research, juggle priorities and complete assignments at my own pace from the comfort of my own work space.”
Each unit explored and educated Mr Friend in different areas of youth work. “I learnt a lot about the legal rights of young people, the legal responsibilities of those working in the sector, the underlying causes of youth homelessness, and many of the other issues affecting adolescents today,” he said.
Mr Friend does casual works at Stepping Stone House, an out-of-home care provider in Dulwich Hill. “This tremendous facility provides medium to long-term accommodation and development to youth between the ages of 12 to 24 who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless,” he said. “My main goal is to be able to contribute to society in a positive way and youth work has given me the opportunity to do that every day.”
As part of his training, Mr Friend did volunteer work at John Berne School in Lewisham to provide services to students who have problems with mainstream education.
“We developed a six week program which uses martial arts training as a means of introducing communication and de-escalation strategies to young people, which the teachers are able to use throughout the school year to positively influence and guide student behaviour,” he said.
Mr Friend has decided to continue his online studies and has enrolled in a Diploma in Community Services, also with TAFE Digital to continue his passionate endeavours to help homeless youth.
To view TAFE Digital’s hundreds of online courses, please visit https://www.tafensw.edu.au/digital
Media contact: Bonny Gunn, TAFE Digital Media Business Partner. M: 0417 134 048