Tai Hara’s run for recognition
Home and Away star, Tai Hara is tackling his first City2Surf this year for a cause close to his heart.
The 26-year-old actor and AIME ambassador not only wants to raise awareness and money for the non-for-profit, Hara’s run is also about showing Indigenous teens they should be proud of who they are.
Hara became involved with AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) in 2012, when he met his house-mate, best friend and 2010 Young Australian of the Year, Jack Bancroft.
“Initially my avenue into the organisation was through brand – being able to use your profile to help raise awareness,” says Hara, who has also been a finalist on Dancing with the Stars.
“There’s a huge Home and Away following with the young teens so it’s a nice way to jump on board.”
But, as he came became more involved with AIME, he realised that the program does more than support Indigenous kids to finish school and transition to university and employment.
It provided the space for them to become proud of who they are.
“It’s recognition of being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – it’s the notion of identity,” Hara says.
“I’m half Japanese, half Australian – being proud of your identity is something I understand.
“On a broader spectrum, it’s about being proud of yourself and your heritage.”
For Hara, his involvement in the program – specifically a talent contest module called AIME’s Got Game – is also about helping the participants to see how much they are capable of.
“I think the biggest thing for me when I go into these modules is for them to know that people outside the Indigenous community also believe in Indigenous success and want to see them get through school and do well,” says Hara, who will run with a group of mentors from AIME.
“You want to speak from the heart – kids see through bullshit.”
So Hara speaks of his own journey, and the importance of self-belief in taking a career path that is not traditonal.
“Acting is a bohemian, weird construct – it doesn’t fit into the norm of a job,” he says. “It was just naturally what I fell into.”
His hope is that by speaking about his own journey, he will give the kids the confidence to follow their own path.
“I don’t have some hardship story of rags to riches,” says Hara, who says that the “really inspiring” performances he sees in AIME’s Got Game “always gets me”.
“It’s more just coming in as a presence and sounding board.”
A sounding board that recognises their potential and wants to help them recognise it too. After all, “we believe that Indigenous = success,” AIME says.
AIME started in 2005 with 25 Indigenous high school students (mentees) and 25 volunteer university students (mentors). In 2015, AIME is connecting approximately 5,700 mentees with 1,900 mentors across 18 Australian universities in all mainland states and the ACT.
You can sign up to this year’s City2Surf here.
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