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FYD Excellence Awards Celebrating Success

Press Release – Foundation For Youth Development

The FYD Excellence Awards celebrate the life-changing accomplishments of a selection of young people, mentors and leaders chosen from the thousands of participants across New Zealand involved in the Foundation’s four programmes: Kiwi Can, Stars, Project …FYD Excellence Awards Celebrating Success

The FYD Excellence Awards celebrate the life-changing accomplishments of a selection of young people, mentors and leaders chosen from the thousands of participants across New Zealand involved in the Foundation’s four programmes: Kiwi Can, Stars, Project K and MYND. In total there are over 18,000 young people participating in our programmes across NZ.

The Awards were held on Thursday night at the newly refurbished, Auckland Art Gallery.

Some of our students’ amazing stories…

Elijah Rangaihaeata, MYND graduate, 18 years old

MYND is FYD’s programme for youth offenders, it is intensive and community based involving both mentoring and social work interventions. Participants are referred to the programme from CYFS on account of offending and anti-social behaviour and it is their last chance to turn their lives around, otherwise the next step is prison.

When Elijah commenced MYND in June last year, he was disengaged with his family and community, associating with other known offenders and doing whatever he pleased. Although he was enrolled at an alternative education programme, he was not attending. He was also incredibly withdrawn and did not see any benefit of the programme.

MYND staff uncovered his passion for dance and drama, Elijah thought he would never have the opportunity to express this side of himself. Once his mentor and social worker found this ‘spark’ it was a matter of using it as a tool to create change within the family unit and re-engage him into an education programme he was actually interested in. Elijah found his true identity and gained the courage to express himself, regardless of what others might think.

With the support of MYND staff, Elijah auditioned for Excel School of Performing Arts and, after an anxious wait, he learnt that he had been accepted and was also the recipient of the Dame Pat Evison and Graeme Dingle Foundation Scholarship to cover one year’s tuition fees.

Elijah has made huge changes in his life, he was on a path toward self destruction and hurting people in the process. This realisation helped him to overcome some of his grief to move forward to make changes in his attitude and commitment to himself. He is an amazing and inspirational young man.

Dylan Archer, MYND graduate, 18 years old

When Dylan commenced MYND he was a well known youth gang leader, he has shown amazing determination to turn his life around. With the help of MYND, Dylan turned away from the gang lifestyle to follow his dream of being a soldier in the army.

Inspired by his grandfather who was a Marine, Dylan demonstrated that he was single-minded in his conquest for change and making positive steps towards his goal by enrolling (with MYND’s support) into the Advanced Training Centres (ATC) Military Prep Programme in Albany the Military Prep Programme. He attended every day and has also completed his National Certificate in Employment Skills with Advanced Training Centre. When he left ATC he was their top ranked student within the course.

Dylan’s change in lifestyle is also apparent by his non-offending and abiding to all his bail conditions while they were in place.

He is currently working for Oak Tree as a store man until the January intake into the Army in 2012, as well as doing correspondence work to complete his NCEA level 2.

Daniel Barrow, Project K graduate, 16 years old

Project K is FYD’s programme for Year 10 students who lack self-confidence or have other factors holding their development back. It is an intensive, proven, 14-month programme that uses NZ’s great outdoors to build self-confidence, teach essential life skills, promote good health and help kids view the future with optimism. Project K is made up of three major components which ensure long-term behavioural change: a three-week Wilderness Adventure; 10-day Community Project; and 12 months of mentoring with a trained and screened adult volunteer from the local community.

When Daniel started Project K he was an overweight, dyslexic 14-year-old with few friends, low self-esteem and no belief that he could make anything of his life.

“Project K completely changed my lifestyle and as a result, the way I feel about myself,” Daniel says.

“Two weeks before the Wilderness Adventure I started working out, then during the Wilderness Adventure well that was really tough physically but I proved to myself that I could do it. I lost seven kilos over that time and realised that the biggest barrier to achieving goals had been myself. I was paired with a great mentor and we kept on at the exercise side of things. Since doing Project K I have run a marathon, several half marathons and I am way healthier and happier.”

Daniel’s mother, Lynne Barratt, is overwhelmed with pride when she thinks of Daniel’s achievements.

“Two years ago Daniel was withdrawn, unhappy and failing pretty badly at school, Project K kick-started him into a different person. It was a big challenge for him, but overcoming those challenges made Daniel realise that he could achieve and he wanted to keep on achieving,” she says.

“Project K has had an impact on him wanting to learn, it created a determination to be better. Daniel’s now received a scholarship from his school for ‘most improved student’ and he wants to go to university, it’s so wonderful to see these goals for the future.”

Along with a three-week wilderness experience and a two-week community challenge, Project K also involves 12 months of mentoring with a trained adult who volunteers from the local community.

Daniel’s Project K mentor was local crisis management consultant, Ben Anderson, who says he saw Daniel’s self-belief blossom while on the programme.

“I saw a massive improvement in what Daniel believed he was capable of, we focussed on his physical goals and as his confidence grew in that area it flowed into others as well, like school,” Martin says.

“Being dyslexic, Daniel had a perception that his academic capabilities were limited. Well Project K sure changed that view. I am blown away by what he has accomplished.”

Maddisyn Cedarwall, Project K Graduate, 16 years old

Maddisyn says she started her Project K journey as a rebellious 15-year-old keen on partying and following the crowd, but the programme gave her a chance to reflect on the impact of her actions and the courage to make a change.

“Before Project K, well I didn’t really have any goals; I was a bit of a sheep, following the pack! My friends used to party, my parents said ‘no’ but I used to sneak out anyway. I guess I was being someone I wasn’t, I had this outward confidence but on the inside I wasn’t confident at all,” she says.

“Project K has helped me make good decisions, at times it was really hard, like the Wilderness Adventure, but I learnt strategies to overcome challenges even when they seemed impossible. I confronted my fears and came out of it a strong person, a strong part of my family.”

Maddisyn’s Project K mentor was local business planning consultant, Tracy de Nys, who says that the she has seen wonderful changes in Maddisyn’s outlook since the start of the programme.

“It was amazing to work with Maddie over the 12 months of mentoring, we had a great connection and her family were so supportive as well. I have seen her go from a young person who was quite random in behaviour, without clear goals for the future, to someone much more settled, more focussed, more cooperative and a clear idea of where she is heading,” says Tracy.

“Mentoring of course comes with its challenges, but it is also incredibly rewarding especially to see someone blossom and of course I have learnt so much myself. It’s been great.”

Maddisyn has now rediscovered a passion for dance and performance and is also working towards completing NCEA; next stop university and a Bachelor of Commerce degree.


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