By Mick Jensen
Rotary Club of Ashburton Plains wants to expand and roll out a programme that empowers young people in the district to make the right choices.
The club has been part funding the Kiwi Can education programme at Netherby and Wakanui schools since last term and has now officially launched a campaign to try to expand the programme further.
The Kiwi Can programme teaches values of integrity and respect.
Values and life skills are delivered via a range of physical, mental and creative challenges which interact with school lessons to support school goals and curriculum.
All pupils at Netherby and Wakanui schools receive one hour of the programme each week from external facilitators and will continue to do so over the 40 week school year.
The foundation that delivers the programme is the brainchild of New Zealand outdoor adventurer, mountaineer and humanitarian Graeme Dingle, who had a vision more than 20 years ago to help young New Zealanders achieve their potential.
Mr Dingle visited Ashburton on Tuesday to meet Plains Rotary members and supporters and described how his vision had developed and expanded and was now helping around 25,000 children.
He was handed cheques of $5000 from both Plains Rotary and Altrusa Ashburton and another from St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Oxford Street for $3000, to help expand the Kiwi Can programme in Mid Canterbury.
Rotary Club of Ashburton Plains director of youth generation Allan Tait said the club had discussed the increasing youth issues in the district and in schools, including bullying, some 18 months ago and had looked at ways at how it, as a club, could support young people.
It had come across the programmes run by the Graeme Dingle Foundation and had been very impressed by the approach.
“We’re calling our initiative the Choices Project because the goal is to help students understand that they have choices in all aspects of their lives and that each choice they make has consequences,” said Mr Tait.
Supporting a programme that taught values and life skills would help children choose the right options, achieve better outcomes and empower them to take control of their own future, said Mr Tait.
He said helping children achieve in education meant better career opportunities, less unemployment and also lower crime levels.
The Kiwi Can programme is aimed at children from five to 12 years, while other programmes run by the Graeme Dingle Foundation are aimed at older children.
The programmes provide strategies to help reduce bullying, keep children in school longer and build confidence.
Plains Rotary wants to expand the programme across the district and has now launched the Choices Project website (choicesproject.org.nz) to enable the community and businesses to follow its development and also to support it financially.