My name is Jamie Gates. I am 23 years old. I come from a small town called Tauranga, also known as the Bay of Plenty. As a child, I was uplifted from mum when I was 5 years old. I was transferred into a foster home with dozens of different families who had come from similar situations to mine. The foster home was called Homes of Hope and I was there for six years. There were a lot of ups and downs in the home, because there was always so much change and there was never a stable lifestyle. But ultimately I did find a family in the home. However, growing up in the foster home was very difficult at times because I didn’t have contact with my mother on a day-to-day basis. I didn’t get to spend much time with my mother outside of the foster home. I still really loved my mum and she was always there for me in the ways she could be. I just wanted to grow up in a household with a normal family.
I didn’t get to spend much time with my mother outside of the foster home. I still really loved my mum and she was always there for me in the ways she could be. I just wanted to grow up in a household with a normal family.
Heading to the age of 11, major change happened again. There was a lovely woman called CJ from the foster home who was keen to take my brother and I into her care permanently. This lasted for a couple of months and it was awesome. I got to live a life I wanted to live and I was really happy. However, after these few months, CJ began to fall ill.
She wasn’t able to keep us in her care permanently as planned, so my brother and I were placed back into the system. So then, over the next 4 to 5 years, my brother and I were constantly moved around different homes, probably over 100 houses. I remember having my bag of stuff and constantly moving. Some days we were moving into a new house every single day. It was traumatising to move in with a random stranger every night, sleep in their bed, eat their food, shower in their shower.
Throughout this time, I distracted myself with sports, drugs and alcohol. I wanted to erase this pain I felt of not belonging anywhere. My brother and I felt like outcasts because we didn’t have a sense of belonging.
This all lead to me running away when I was 16 years old, the reason being that I was in a house – but it wasn’t a HOME. I was surrounded by people there but still felt very alone. Even though I had been there a couple of years, I still felt like I didn’t belong. When I ran away, I was searching for a sense of belonging and connection.
I ran away to Te Puke, where I was living with partner at the time. I was living with her family and working in kiwifruit. I distracted myself with work to try and forget about my past. I held so much animosity within myself towards life in general, because life had been so unfair.
Fast forward to the beginning of this year. I was working a 9-5 job but feeling like I had no real purpose in life. When lockdown hit, I had to move and ended up back in Tauranga with no job. I then came into contact with Live for More, through a good mutual friend.
I decided to give the programme a go. I was a bit hesitant at first, but then I met Jared and Sean from Live for More. They showed up to my house one day with big smiles and a positive attitude, and then I just knew that Live for More would be a great opportunity for me.
I’ve found many friendships on this course that will last a lifetime outside of course. The brotherhood on this programme has made me feel like I am part of something bigger. I have found a sense of belonging at Live for More, and a sense of something greater than myself.
Live for More has helped me gain confidence within myself and empowered me to do much better in life. I have learnt perseverance and now I ALWAYS try. Even if I fail, I keep trying because I know I can and will succeed eventually, even where others failed. Like in surfing, you know you might get washed up on a wave, but you have to persevere, get back up and keep on going.
Surfing has really helped me clear my mind, especially if I have been having a rough day. Being out on the water for me is very therapeutic because I can think clearly and experience true freedom, which helps my mind, body and soul remain healthy.
Surfing has really helped me clear my mind, especially if I have been having a rough day. Being out on the water for me is very therapeutic because I can think clearly and experience true freedom, which helps my mind, body and soul remain healthy. All of that maximises my surf session. When I’m out on the waves, I don’t just think about catching the waves. Surfing and catching the waves actually helps me through my problems and struggles, without any distractions.
Overall, this programme has helped me in massive ways. I probably would be in a bad space right now if I hadn’t enrolled on this course. I’m proud to say I’m in a much better space now than I was before. I know that I have a purpose in life now. And I know that after this course, I will continue to do well and spread positivity around in my everyday life.
Lastly, I would like to give a big thank you to Live for More, the staff team behind it and all the volunteers who come and help us surf. Also, thank you so much to everyone who is here tonight supporting us for our graduation. I appreciate the time and energy that’s been put into everything that we’ve done on this course.