The Clutha District Youth Council, supported by Sport Clutha, is exploring the possibility of bringing the Cactus youth programme to the district.

At a recent annual plan meeting, the Clutha District Council confirmed continuing resource support for the programme including $15,000 seed funding.

Cactus stands for Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit and Support and it is possible it may be launched as early as term 4 this year.

In its submission to the CDC, the youth council said it wanted to bring the Cactus programme to South Otago to support schools in engaging students and providing further leadership opportunities.

‘‘We have been involved in Cactus in other regions and have seen firsthand the benefits that this programme provides not only for the students but for the local community, with a reduction in truancy, and more active and motivated students who have a sense of belonging.

‘‘We hope from this that students will gain better connections to the local community.’’

Clutha District Police are aware Cactus has been run with great success throughout New Zealand and are keen to support the local programme.

Cactus is a physically and mentally challenging activities and self-discipline programme that motivates young people to reach individual and team potential through building fitness, self-esteem, confidence, and positive connections in the community.

Year 8 to 13 pupils can be nominated or self-nominate to participate in the seven-week Cactus programme, which has the potential to be run three times a week as a morning, on-school-grounds programme so students are on-site ready for the school day.

Participants will have breakfast together after each training session — an opportunity for community leaders or organisations to join the group during and discuss the services and support they can offer.

At the end of seven weeks, Cactus is celebrated by ‘‘The Longest Day,’’ where pupils put everything they have learned to the test as a team, followed by a graduation ceremony.