Stu Thompson's mentoring programme has helped hundreds of young local boys.

The ICONZ Edge programme has been in place at Welcome Bay Primary School since 2010 and will soon roll out to other schools in the Bay of Plenty thanks to a $15,000 BayTrust grant.

Young boys were hand-picked by their school to participate in ICONZ Edge, which involved two-hour sessions each week for a year.

The programme centred around hands-on activities such as filleting fish, building wooden boats or learning to ride bikes, while teaching important life skills to the students.

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With the grant, Thompson plans to expand ICONZ Edge to Bellevue School, Arataki School, St Thomas More Catholic School and Merivale School by mid-2018 by buying a fully enclosed workshop trailer which will act as a mobile classroom for students.

Thompson said the trailer would be 5.5m long and about 2.4m wide, similar to the size of a shipping container.

"We can tow it from school to school and it will help us overcome wet weather or any issues around lack of classroom space," he said.

The plan for the expansion was to have one programme per term, which Thompson then hoped to increase by employing a workshop manager as funding allowed.

The weekly sessions were designed to teach the students important life skills they may not have received otherwise.

Every session, the students would develop self-belief, resilience and a better attitude towards life and learning, Thompson said.

Part of every session was also devoted to "Edge skills" like dealing with bullying, self-management and resilience, conflict resolution, team building and how to relate to others.

"The biggest outcome we've experienced is the boys' attitudes towards other students have changed. They are learning to get along with others who they normally wouldn't, and are making friendships they may not have naturally made," Thompson said.

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He said many schools were grappling with "a lot of social issues" which was distracting teachers from their core jobs.

"ICONZ Edge is stepping into the gap and teaching kids important life lessons – all of which are linked back to the key competencies in the National Curriculum," Thompson said.

"There are over 40,000 boys in New Zealand who don't have a dad in their lives. ICONZ is about providing positive male role models to give these boys confidence and a positive environment in which to learn."

Thompson's goal was to get ICONZ Edge into as many schools in Tauranga as possible to help serve their needs.

BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes said ICONZ was a "great example" of a successful youth programme which was encouraging young boys to be productive members of the community.

"BayTrust believes that when youth are involved and engaged within their community they are more likely to lead productive lives and become good citizens who will provide leadership for our communities in the future," he said.

The mobile workshop was expected to cost $34,000 to complete the project and ICONZ Edge was always looking for more donations. For more information contact call Stu on 027655 7113 or stu@iconz.org.nz


FACTBOX

ICONZ was developed by Tauranga man Stu Thompson on behalf of the New Zealand Boys Brigade organisation in 2003. It's now run in 65 different locations nationwide, and a modified version called ICONZ Edge has been running at Welcome Bay Primary School since 2010.