Redwood woman’s dedication to young earns award

Karla Guerin’s dedication towards building resilience and confidence in young people has been recognised at the Graeme Dingle Foundation Excellence Awards.

The Redwood resident received the outstanding programme co-ordinator award for making the most significant contribution to a school or community programme. Guerin co-ordinates the Foundation’s Kiwi Can programme, a life skills and values programme delivered to primary and intermediate school students.

She accepted the award on behalf of the organisation’s Kiwi Can team, who work with rangatahi on the front lines. “They are the ones who are face-to-face with the students each day. They are the ones that were there for them the day of the shootings when most of our schools went into lockdown. They stayed in their schools until all students were back with their carers and safe,” she said.

Kiwi Can is an all-inclusive, 12-month weekly programme at schools across Christchurch and is split into two parts – weekly lessons and an annual community project. Both are aimed at making an impact, with themes having direct links to positive child development by engaging students, reducing bullying and truancy, and improves communication skills.

“As I visit our 19 schools, I see the big smiles on the children’s faces. I get to see the evidence first hand of how it impacts so many lives of so many incredible children who all deserve to be loved. No matter what challenges they face in life, what they have inside them is greater than any obstacle,” Guerin said.

Sir Graeme Dingle said this year’s awards, at a time when Covid-19 changed lives, showcased what the Foundation was all about. “The ethos of our Foundation is focused on helping young New Zealanders overcome obstacles. We want them to have a life full of possibilities so they can achieve their dreams and make the most of their unique talents. We want to help them make a contribution to society.”

Hornby High School student Jaleel Aratuara-Collins was also an award winner, receiving the Project K Excellence Award for her outstanding achievements when overcoming difficult obstacles at the Graeme Dingle Foundation 2020 Excellence Awards.

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