Twelve months ago, Malik Taylor was socially disengaged, experiencing family breakdown and was at risk of becoming homeless. Today, the 16-year-old has just competed in a prestigious national youth Regatta in Sydney after turning his life around in our Spin 180 program in Darwin. Spin 180 Youth Homelessness Support Worker Lisa Denvir shares some of Malik’s story:

"In mid-2016, Malik joined Mission Australia's Spin 180 sailing program. He wasn't attending school regularly and was getting into trouble due to pressures at home.

"My team worked very closely with Malik’s family, assisting them into stable accommodation earlier this year after a case was opened by Territory Families due to abuse in the home. Mission Australia staff partnered with Danila Dilba Health Service – a Darwin-based Aboriginal community organisation – to secure culturally appropriate mental health, alcohol and drug support for Malik’s three older siblings.

“With another of Malik’s siblings becoming involved with the juvenile justice system, his mother was struggling to cope. Life was indeed chaotic for this young man. Mission Australia staff worked holistically with the family, addressing his mother's and siblings' needs, advocating on their behalf and connecting them with relevant agencies that could support them.

"Malik engaged with the Spin 180 sailing program, attending twice a week. He quickly became an enthusiastic and talented sailor and was encouraged to join other weekend activities with the sailing club.

"In July this year, Malik was part of a youth team that participated in the Australian Maid Youth Match Racing Regatta where he competed against seven other teams from around the country. Following on from this event Malik secured a place on the Youth Racing Program with 12 other young people from the club.

"The sailing club supported Malik by offering him the opportunity to complete work experience with a new training team. Malik rose to the challenge and became a strong mentor for new sailors. The club trainers noted the new group was better behaved and more focussed on the days that Malik joined the activities.

"Malik’s confidence continues to grow. Mission Australia staff arranged a work placement for Malik at a mechanic workshop where he's enjoying the work and likes being treated as an adult. Perhaps for the first time, Malik can view older males as helpful, supportive and friendly – something he has not experienced at home. His positivity spreads to the younger participants and helps to give them a clear vision of a bright future.

"Malik also attended and graduated from Mission Australia's Strength Program which gives young men valuable life lessons and coping skills that help guide them to make better decisions. The transformation in Malik has been remarkable. His example to others is invaluable."

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