Take2 student Cameron White has traded what was once a life of crime for coding.
“Violence and alcoholism were definitely in my household growing up, so home wasn’t a safe place. That transpired into me picking up drugs at quite an early age,” White told Newshub.
But thanks to rehabilitation and education, at 28-years-old, he now has a chance to realise his potential.
White has almost finished developing a mobile app. They are skills he learnt from Take2, founded by Cameron Smith, who grew up in a small town with limited opportunities.
“Education was able to transform my life, so I wanted to give that opportunity to individuals who perhaps didn’t have all of the advantages I had growing up,” Smith said.
“I got some advice from a community employment adviser and he mentioned Take2, and so I sent them an email and a week later I was in the class, learning to code,” said White.
Take2 began four years ago at the Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri.
It started with a classroom, where prisoners could undertake nine months of training to become web developers, learning valuable skills like coding to prepare them for a life outside the prison walls.
The programme has expanded, with the creation of a community hub in Auckland city, where Take2 students continue their education upon release from prison.
It was established with the support of Kiwi IT company Datacom, which has hired three former students.
“I have some vague idea that they weren’t playing tiddly winks because you don’t get to spend 10 years in prison doing that,” Datacom chief information officer Karl Wright said.
But with the right wraparound support, there have been no issues for Datacom.
“You plan for the worst and hope for the best and in our case, we really have got the best out of it,” Wright told Newshub.
Take2 has been so successful, Smith has been approached by a prison in Sydney.