Being told over 40 years ago that “his cup was empty until he started doing things for other people” sent Sir Graeme Dingle on a path that led to the introduction of a new Rotary initiative in Rotorua recently.
He spoke in Rotorua to a packed lecture theatre at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology (formerly Waiariki) where he launched the programme, thanks to the joint management and fundraising efforts of the five Rotary Clubs of Rotorua.
Sir Graeme is best known for his 50+ years of outdoor adventures and expeditions. He is the recipient of a variety of distinguished awards and was this year knighted for his services to outdoor pursuits and to youth. His passion is clear: “there are thousands and thousands of New Zealand kids who are bullied, depressed, who lack confidence, or who are vulnerable.
We aim to treat the causes of this suffering, not the symptoms: helping transform and guide these precious young lives towards a positive future”.
There are 23 decile 1-3 schools in Rotorua. In addition, it scores 9/10 on the social deprivation scale in New Zealand and features in the top 10 of the highest child abuse.
The Rotary clubs came together to support Kiwi Can into Rotorua and it will be starting January 2018. Sir Graeme and his wife and Foundation co-founder traveled to Rotorua to officially launch the Rotary efforts.
Kiwi Can is a values and life skills programme designed for lower decile primary and intermediate schools. It is in 11 regions in New Zealand and within the Tauranga and western Bay of Plenty alone reaches over 2500 children. The Rotorua Rotary clubs recognised the need to bring the programme to Rotorua after realising that there were 23 decile 1-3 schools as opposed to Tauranga’s 9.
The Graeme Dingle Foundation aims “to inspire all school age children to reach their full potential through programmes that build self-esteem, promote good values and teach valuable life, education and health skills”.
The launch profiled how Kiwi Can had helped a year six Brookfield Primary School student, and it also heard from the Principal of Pukehina School who was already seeing huge community, social and behavioural benefits of the programme, after only two years of delivery.
The $85,000 raised by the combined Rotorua Rotary Clubs will fund the programme into three Rotorua schools, delivered by two locally recruited and trained Kiwi Can Leaders.
The next steps are to establish a Rotorua Dingle Foundation Board and to start recruitment for the leaders.
Sir Graeme and co-founder Jo-anne Wilkinson at the launch of the Graeme Dingle Foundation Kiwi Can Programme in Rotorua 25 July 2017
Zane Adams Kiwi Can Year 6 student from Brookfield Primary speaking at the launch of the Graeme Dingle Foundation Kiwi Can Programme in Rotorua 25 July 2017