Ricky with his OTRT teammates at the finish line of the Kokoda Challenge
One year ago, 15-year-old Ricky Hill was disengaged from school and wasn’t sure what his future held.
Today he is preparing to start an apprenticeship thanks to crucial life skills gained through a six-month youth program.
The Kokoda Youth Foundation’s On the Right Track program (OTRT) is funded entirely by Accor Hotels and helps local youth realise their potential.
Ricky said his participation in OTRT made a big contribution to realising his.
“Some things I struggled with before the program was working well in a team, getting along with others and motivation,” he said.
“All parts of OTRT taught me different lessons, but overall the program taught me courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice.”
“I would definitely recommend the program; it has impacted me, and it will impact others.”
Next year Ricky hopes to take on the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program, a 14-month journey that sees local youth involved in community service and hiking the real Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.
Mum Natasha Russell said she noticed a huge change in Ricky.
“Participating in the OTRT gave Ricky motivation and commitment that I have never seen in him before,” she said.
“I was so proud to see his enthusiasm for his training, and throughout the walk.”
Kokoda Youth Services Manager Dann Hollingshed said during the OTRT Ricky was quiet, resilient and willing to work through barriers.
“I particularly admired Ricky’s ability to influence and help lead the younger members of the team in often difficult circumstances,” Mr Hollingshed said.
Accor’s Race to Survive program sees hundreds of employees fundraising for selected charities to participate in four days of adventure on the Gold Coast in October.
Accor Race to Survive participants in 2017
Accor General Manager (Indigenous Programs and Community Investment) Marc Bennie said the organisation were extremely proud of their involvement with the KYF and On The Right Track Program.
“We love hearing stories of these young people becoming leaders in their community and continuing on their journey,” Mr Bennie said.
“We wish the new program participants all the best for the year and can’t wait to be a part of their progress.”
Former Junior World Champion surfer Samantha Cornish has joined the team at Kokoda as 2019 OTRT Program Coordinator and will be an outstanding role model for teenage participants.
The 2019 On the Right Track program kicks off today.
Visit the Accor Race to Survive fundraising page here.