A young life changed

The Graeme Dingle Foundation Bay of Plenty is delivering its Kiwi Can, Stars and Project K programmes to more than 3500 children and youth in 12 communities in the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty region every week this year. Photo: Supplied.

An 11-year-old Bay of Plenty boy may look like an ordinary child, but the challenges he has faced and the struggles he’s overcomes set him apart from the crowd.

David – not his real name as he didn’t want to be identified – has been through The Graeme Dingle Foundation’s Kiwi Can project and says it changed his life.

Foundation regional manager Dan Allen-Gordon says the Kiwi Can programme helps any Kiwi kid.

“It provides skills for building positive relationships and dealing with hard situations, developing in us resilience and self-esteem.”

The course is broken up into four terms. In term one they learn about positive relationships, in term two it is about integrity - doing the right thing even when no one is watching - term three Is resilience and term four is respect.

“I thought it was going to be boring, but when we started I was bouncing off the walls like willy-nilly and I loved it so much,” David says.

He struggled at a previous school with a teacher that didn’t understand him, which resulted in self-esteem issues and not enjoying school.

“Often I would get in trouble and I would cry to my mum about it. Then one night it all got too much.”

He and his mum had a “serious chat”.

“I said that ‘l hate myself’, ‘l am dumb’ and ‘l wish I was never born’.”

But Kiwi Can turned that around for David and he learned to be more confident in the person he is.

“I do dance and Kiwi Can helped me not be the shy one in my group and helped me be more confident.”

He said his confidence came from doing the Kiwi Can activities. He now knows that he has real friends and what that actually means.

He understands what true friends are and how to be a good friend back and wanted to thank Kiwi Can for the new ideas.

“l'm keeping it in my brain because it's changing the way l'm thinking and you've just helped me through a lot of things."

Those who want to help kids like David realise their full potential can donate, sponsor, mentor or leave a gift in their will.

For more information, visit: wwwdinglefoundation.org.nz/bayof plenty or phone: 021 992 673.