More Rotorua school children will soon have access to the values-based education programme Kiwi Can thanks to a significant funding boost from BayTrust.
The $75,000 grant will be spread over three years, allowing the Graeme Dingle Foundation Rotorua to support the four local schools involved at present – Horohoro School, Mamaku School, Kaitao Intermediate and Sunset Primary – and look to expand the Kiwi Can programme to more local children.
"We're honestly just so thrilled," Graeme Dingle Foundation Rotorua regional manager Nicola Smallwood said.
"Multi-year funding really does give you that sense of security. We would absolutely love to expand into other schools and this funding from BayTrust will give us the space to develop other funding streams at the same time.
"Just knowing you can affect change with tamariki in Rotorua is incredible."
The programme focuses on teaching kids aged 5 to 12 years the values of integrity (pono), resilience (taikaha), positive relationships (whanaungatanga) and respect (manaakitanga).
Weekly classroom lessons are delivered by Kiwi Can leaders, and the same four values are taught each year.
"So by the time you've been through your entire primary school years, you really understand those concepts," Smallwood said.
School principals have noticed an increase in engagement and co-operative behaviour, and a decrease in bullying, as a result of the programme, she said.
The focus on resilience took on extra importance last year in the wake of Covid-19 and the disruption that caused in children's lives.
Horohoro School principal Piri Brown said the new tamariki who had not been part of Kiwi Can are learning new skills every week, especially in the junior school.
"They learn about co-operating with others, being resilient in difficult situations, having integrity and learning to be responsible for one's actions," he said.
"New learnings from Kiwi Can are sometimes used in situations between peers – when they have a disagreement with a friend, they try to solve the problem first and foremost, before seeking help from a teacher."
Smallwood said many Rotorua children looked forward to their weekly Kiwi Can visits.
"When they see the leaders, they get excited and that's partly because of the way the programme is delivered.
"It's full of high energy, fun activities. You might teach them about respect but then you get up and play a big game and then ask them 'how did we show respect in that game?'"
The Graeme Dingle Foundation's overall purpose is to strengthen rangatahi and tamariki and make Aotearoa the best place in the world to be a child.
"By teaching these values and life skills, we want kids to recognise that there isn't any obstacle they can't overcome."
BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes said, in an ideal world, these key values would be taught to every child at home in the early years of life.
"Unfortunately, there is a lot of high social deprivation and significant issues in Rotorua such as family violence, suicide, gang influences and high truancy rates," he said.
"Many young people have disruptions to their education and home lives as a result. So, this programme is very much in demand and BayTrust is delighted to have approved a multi-year funding grant which will hopefully allow Kiwi Can to expand into other Rotorua schools very soon."
BayTrust works to help strengthen Bay of Plenty communities by providing charitable, cultural, philanthropic, recreational, and other benefits to accelerate bold meaningful change, helping local communities and the environment to flourish.