New Zealand rugby stars are having an impact in the classroom of some Western Bay of Plenty schools.
Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini and fellow sevens player Stacey Waaka and Black Ferns prop Toka Natua were at Mount Maunganui Intermediate School on Thursdayplaying a role in a Kiwi Can lesson.
The Kiwi Can programme is a high engagement initiative run by the Graeme Dingle Foundation.
Waaka, who has become a regular in both Black Ferns teams in recent years, says it is fun to be a part of.
"This is a great change, we love to help and inspire the generations coming through and this is the perfect opportunity.
"It is great getting kids involved and them having positive relationships with one another. For us to come in and be role models for them and help them venture into that space is pretty cool."
Waaka helped the Black Ferns win titles in both the sevens and 15-a-side games and says there are parallels between the classroom and the sports field.
"Teamwork is an obvious one. You have to work together and off the field if you want to be successful. It is also about communication and confidence."
The former Taneatua School student says she was the shy kid at school.
"It is hard to be who you are and not be shy, being able to connect with one another is really important."
The children were engaged with stars and the session leaders in activities and planning their own clapping presentation. It was a far cry from the listen and scribe model of years gone by and there were no desks in the classroom.
Mount Maunganui Intermediate student Corban Willson says it is an enjoyable experience.
"They are really fun and you learn lots of things. You get to play sport, you co-operate with each other and you make good friendships. Having the players there, it encourages you to do your best. The sports stars were watching, and I wanted to do my best. It is also nice meeting new people."
Graeme Dingle Foundation Bay of Plenty regional manager Dan Allen-Gordon says Kiwi Can is in 11 Western Bay schools and is delivered to more than 3000 children in the area.
"This term the lessons are positive relationships and that will be followed by integrity, resilience and then respect. The leaders are also with the kids at lunchtime, go to camp and the mentor the kids one on one for those that need it. Seventy per cent of leaders go on to teaching."
The Graeme Dingle Foundation is the official charity of choice for New Zealand Rugby.