In late April, care-experienced young-people from around the country got a unique opportunity to think about who and what they want to be, as participants in the annual “L’Oréal Face Your Future” programme– a partnership with L’Oréal New Zealand and Fostering Kids NZ.
“Face Your Future” is a two day inspirational event designed to get young people thinking about life after secondary school.
In it’s ninth year, the event grew out of a desire by the talented team at L’Oréal New Zealand to enhance the work of Fostering Kids NZ, nurturing young New Zealanders who are in care.
On day one – participants heard from successful New Zealanders who have overcome adversity to pursue their dreams. They also got tips on grooming and presentation from the experts at L’Oréal New Zealand.
On day two – the beauty company opened the doors of its corporate headquarters and distribution centre to participants – giving them a rare insight into the workings of the world’s largest cosmetics group. They were also treated to a live mini-concert by music star and producer Pieter T while they enjoyed lunch under a huge marquee.
Pieter T also spoke to participants, many of whom are loyal fans of his music. They listened transfixed as he shared the lessons he’s learned in the public eye:
“Take constructive criticism from experts in your field, but ignore the haters. Learn the difference between the two,” he told them.
Member of Parliament Ron Mark also spoke – sharing his own experience as a child in care.
“I wanted to be with my mum and dad – but I suddenly realised that was the last place I needed to be. The saving grace for me – I always wanted – deep in my heart – to do well.”
Ron encouraged participants to take responsibility for their decisions and not let themselves be defined by their start in life.
“You have no excuse for anything – the only person who is going to make a difference in your life is you,” he told participants.
In an emotionally charged speech, content producer and film-maker Sydney-anne Martin shared how – with a lot of hard work and the support of loving foster parents – she’s found success and happiness:
“What has happened to me doesn’t need to be who I am for the rest of my life. For a long time I was really scared to accept this, because I didn’t know who I was going to be if I was no longer the damaged, scared, alone foster kid that I’d been for so long. But carrying that pain around inside of me was really, really hard. And, I really needed to release it, so I could move on and do successful things with my life.”
L’Oréal NZ Group Corporate Communications Manager Tanya Abbott said the event is the highlight of the calendar for her team.
“Every year the groups that come through ‘Face Your Future’ inspire us. You just see the looks on their faces and the smiles. The young people that arrive on day one are different people by day two.”
And, she said, another unexpected benefit is that the event helps L’Oréal New Zealand achieve its goal of recruiting and retaining the best employees:
“I had a note from a new starter at L’Oréal, who put her hand up to volunteer for ‘Face Your Future’. She said this was one of the reasons she joined L’Oréal. That is gold for us and makes us immensely proud.”
Speaking on the second day of the programme, Fostering Kids NZ CEO Linda Surtees thanked L’Oréal NZ for its ongoing commitment to vulnerable children and young people:
“L’Oréal believes a company’s behaviour is as important as its economic performance. And this year, for the eighth time, L’Oréal has been acknowledged as the most ethical company in the world. We value our partnership with L’Oréal more than they could ever know.”
Mrs Surtees also acknowledged the support of everyone who provides financial assistance to Fostering Kids New Zealand, in particular the few individuals who generously sponsor young people from outside Auckland to attend the two-day event.
“The experience of Face Your Future positively influences young people in so many ways, we are grateful to our supporters who’ve helped to make made this experience possible.”
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