Andy’s Story

From teenage tearaway to mentor in the making

Andy was a very anxious and troubled 11-year-old when he first arrived at The Good Life Farm.

“Anything not going right and he would scream and yell, shocking language", says Lesley. “His past had been so unpredictable that on the farm his behaviour was extremely aggressive and self-destructive."

Slowly but surely Lesley saw signs of improvement, and Andy’s behaviour began to settle. But one day he left the farm, and didn’t return again for more than two years.

In that time he’d gone from one school to another, and eventually wasn’t attending school at all. Andy couldn’t read or write.

“When he came back there was the same sort of violent and aggressive behaviour,” says Lesley.

His default position was to do a “runner” from the farm when he got frustrated or angry.

Lesley told Andy’s grandmother there needed to be boundaries if he was to return on a regular basis.

“We made it very clear that if he walked out the front door we would ring the police,” she says.

“The agreement was he wouldn’t run and I would leave him alone to have some space to take a breather. We talked about how to manage his anger, and how to sit and be still for a while.”

A young life transformed

Today Andy can read, and reads with Liz on each of his three visits a week to the farm.

“Previously he couldn’t do anything without having a tantrum but now he’s starting to manage those emotions,” adds Lesley.

“He’s one of our prize students. He’s full of pride in the farm and I haven’t had an outburst for months. He’s come along leaps and bounds.”

Andy is considering mentoring other kids, and doing a traineeship.

“There is a lot of fear based around failure,” says Lesley. “A lot of young people won’t come on the farm in case they fail,” she says.

“It’s really about allowing them to learn how to express themselves and to learn that failure is all right.”

Andy now knows how to work through his emotions when he is feeling anxious.

“He’s doing really well and I’m really proud of him.”