A year ago life was spiralling out of control for Jaleel Aratuara-Collins, who had little to no respect for others around her. But the Hornby High School student’s life has now been turned around thanks to the Graeme Dingle Foundation. The year 11 student’s journey towards self-confidence and resilience has been recognised at the Foundation’s 2020 Excellence Awards, winning the Project K Excellence award for her commitment to the programme and overcoming hardships.
Jaleel recalled how Project K turned her life around, which equipped young people with the tools they needed to overcome difficult obstacles. “Last year I was an idiot, doing things that I shouldn’t be doing. I had little or no respect for anyone, making stupid decisions, physically hurting myself because I was trying to deal with things that I was struggling with,” she said. “I lost two very special people to me to suicide and because I hadn’t dealt with it, I was basically lost and just scraping by daily.
“Through my Project K journey, I learnt how to make friends with people outside my circle, to give people a chance, to grow as an individual and how to hone in on my team-building skills. I learnt to become mentally stronger and I can now comfortably ask for help if I need it.”
Project K is a 14-month programme designed for year 10 students, which focuses on building confidence, teaching life skills, promoting good health and encourages positive relationships and attitudes.
It involves three parts – wilderness, community challenge and an individual mentoring partnership with a trained mentor.
Sir Graeme Dingle said this year’s awards, at a time when Covid-19 changed lives, show-cased 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,” he said. “We want to help them make a contribution to society.”
Kiwi Can co-ordinator Karla Guerin, of Redwood, was also an award winner, receiving the Outstanding Programme Coordinator award for making the most significant contribution to a school or community programme at the Graeme Dingle Foundation 2020 Excellence Awards.
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