From feeling lost to changing her life, Jaleel Arataura has broken a cycle of adversity.
“Graeme Dingle Foundation’s programmes have helped me to find myself and find purpose in life. As a teenager, I lost two very special people to me and because I hadn’t dealt with it, I was lost too and scraping by daily, it was affecting me in many ways.”
Arataura’s journey with the Foundation began in Primary School as she took part in Kiwi Can before she moved into High School and took part in the Foundation’s year nine programme, ‘Stars’.
At age 14, Jaleel secured a spot on Project K; a programme which builds confidence, self-belief, teaches life skills and promotes good health through a Wilderness Adventure, Community Project and mentoring with an adult.
“Amy, my mentor, didn’t give up on me. We formed a unique bond. I learnt to become mentally stronger, and I can now comfortably ask for help if I need it.
What was achieved in Project K came from the help of Amy, and my Mum. They believed in me and showed me how to find my purpose. Project K is the most beneficial thing I have done to date; I grew so much, and I often wonder what I would be like if I hadn’t participated.”
It was through Project K that she won the “Project K Excellence Award” at the Graeme Dingle Foundation’s National Excellence Awards for her contribution to the programme.
“I travelled to Auckland to receive the award, and everyone said how proud they were of me, I felt supported and inspired to keep going.”
Wanting to continue her journey with the Foundation Jaleel kept setting goals and seeking ways to be involved in helping young people.
“After Project K I knew I wanted to work with the Foundation and help kids the way that I was helped. I mentioned this a few years ago to the Project K team in Christchurch, and this year, a job came up! I’m now working part-time as a Kiwi Can Leader as well as being on the Foundation’s National Youth Advisory Group and working part-time for ‘What Now?!’.
“As a Kiwi Can Leader, I’m looking forward to understanding different behaviours of young people and seeing how they are – If they’re not enjoying school, I will make sure the hour I get with them each week is enjoyable and beneficial, which will hopefully have a flow on effect into the rest of their time at school.”
When asked about her aspirations for the future Jaleel said she’d love to continue working with the Foundation or become a primary school teacher.
“I have to say I’m really proud of how far I have come.”