Iszack was an award winner at our 2023 National Excellence Awards for the ‘Project K – Excellence Award’. Before joining the programme, Iszack was a shy young man. A country boy stuck in an urban setting keen on any time off school as this was an environment that he wasn’t comfortable or successful in. Iszack returned from Project K a changed young man who developed skills of perseverance and dedication that will serve him well in his future life. Iszack shares insight on his wonderful story.
Before I was involved with Project K, I was getting into trouble at school and at home, I was making the wrong choices and hanging out with the wrong crowd. I was lost.
My parents were confused and hurt by my behaviour; they feared the direction I was heading. I felt they were angry at me and were trying to get me on track, but I stopped listening.
My Dean from Birkenhead College, Mr Nola believed in me and put me forward for Project K. He said I had potential and would benefit from being involved.
Tony and Amanda from Project K were awesome! They set clear boundaries and expectations and brought a group of us together. I went on a wilderness adventure and had no contact with my family for a few weeks, surprisingly I missed them. I also learned about patience and commitment and to speak about myself in a positive way. There were activities I was good at in the outdoors. I learned about who I wanted to be.
After the camp, we had weekly meetings, and I had a mentor. My mentor was a successful businesswoman who steered me in the right direction. My mentor Nicola passed away in July in an accident.
Nicola gave me a lot of her time. She pushed me to commit to some goals that were achievable. I am grateful for the time she spent encouraging me and cheering me on as she travelled the world calling and texting me. Nicola said I could encourage others to do good in what they are trying to achieve.
Thank you, Nicola, for encouraging me and being there when I needed you and helping me understand what I can be. I committed to and have nearly achieved all the five goals we set together, and as my mentor Nicola would often say, “education is the most important thing”.
I’m going back to school again next year and will be successful in completing NCEA Level 1. I have an apprenticeship lined up and I am working part time outside of school. I am making the right choices.
I am proud to say I am making the right choices; I will always look to improve, and I feel good about myself. I am proud of who I am and who I am becoming.
My parents say I’m a different person but the same. I am Iszack Bruce.”