Jordan Lawrence is about to take the leap into the big unknown – high school.
But first he’s going to leap out of a plane.
And with the help of the aquaculture-backed, Kiwi Can programme he has developed the life skills to take both in his stride.
“Two years ago I wouldn’t have had the courage to sky dive but after attending Kiwi Can classes, they have taught me to turn dreams into goals and now I would absolutely love to go sky diving,” Jordan said.
The 12-year-old realised his goal late last year when he won a sky dive at his Havelock School graduation as a prize for incorporating into his life, the values and skills learned through the Kiwi Can programme.
“It’s definitely worth it,” said Jordan.
“You learn a lot and it really does impact what you do at home and school. I’ve definitely noticed changes like when I’m playing sports I just keep on going and never give up, and if I have a disagreement with someone, I keep my cool and get my side of the story across without getting aggressive.
“Kiwi Can is awesome. I look forward to it each week and I will miss it when I go to high school. And even though I won’t have the classes anymore, I will still use it for things like dealing with the stress of homework.”
Jordan is one of 15,000 children, in 69 schools around the country who learn about respect, integrity, resilience and positive relationships with highly engaging, weekly activities and classes delivered by the Graeme Dingle Foundation’s Kiwi Can programme.
The programme is funded solely through community and industry funding and the support of aquaculture companies like Sanford, New Zealand King Salmon and Moana,and their staff make it possible to deliver it to Southland, Marlborough, Northland,Timaru, Bay of Plenty and Coromandel.
Sanford were the catalysts for launching the programme in Southland 13 years ago and their on-going sponsorship has helped to grow it to today where it works with 1800 students across 10 local schools.
Its ongoing success is thanks in no small part to local Salmon and Aquaculture Development Manager Tommy Foggo, who has championed the project since its inception. And with the positive benefits to the region clear, Sanford were also keen to see it integrated into the community that underpins their Marlborough operations.
“Sanford have been a big player in helping us get off the ground in Marlborough and have been providing on-going support,” said Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough Regional Manager Kelvin Watt.
“We started in Marlborough three years ago with four schools and 300 kids and by next year we’ll be working with 1700 kids in nine schools across the region.
“That’s 40% of kids in the region that we’re working with and empowering them with the skills to interact positively with each other, take on challenges, bounce back and give things a go.
“The difference we are making in the community is huge.
“We are 99% funded from our own community and the support of the aquaculture industry is vital.”
Just as Tommy championed the programme in Southland, Ted Culley has been a driving force in the Top of the South, having personally raised over $30,000 by volunteering to be ‘dropped’ in two separate Drop Your Boss initiatives which saw him abseil down a building and get ‘pushed’ from a plane.
“Ted has been an amazing promoter of the programme,” Kelvin said. “He has been massive in getting it under way and his fundraising efforts have been outstanding.”
Ted said he was fully behind the programme because it was an effective way to make a positive contribution to the local community.
“This is about growing great kids,” Ted said.
“The reason why we support it is because we are part of the community and we want to contribute to the prosperity of the community as a whole,” Ted said.
“Beyond sponsoring sports teams and festivals, this goes deep into the nitty gritty about how do you make your community better.
“It’s teaching kids life skills that they will use across all demographics and environments. It does it in a really fun way, and you end up with a group of kids that have a really good set of values and do the right thing when no one is looking.”
As well as representing Sanford at various fund raising efforts, Ted also personally sponsors the sky dive prize awarded at Havelock School.
“You only have to go to one of their sessions and see the impact this is having,” Ted said.
“The reason why I sponsor it personally is because I really believe in it and if the lure of a sky dive helps them strive for these positive changes, then that’s a small thing to do for a great outcome.”
For Havelock students, the programme reinforces the school’s values and prepares the kids for future studies and beyond, according to principal Ernie Buutveld.
“Without a doubt it’s a great thing for both students and the wider school. It links easily and comfortably within the value set our school already has,” he said.
“It’s a good model for getting on with life, for developing self control, discipline and dealing with challenges. It’s challenges that life is all about and it’s your response to those things which are absolutely critical. As students get older, the way they respond to situations will very much determine the likely outcome. The better we can prepare the kids, the better the result they will get downstream.”
But perhaps the biggest benefits were on show when Jordan jumped out of the plane.
“It proves how much Kiwi Can classes can boost kiwi children to follow their dreams and turn them into goals.”
If Jordan is anything to go by, Kiwi Can is transforming young lives forever.