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Connecting with the community
Weekend Sun, Tauranga Bay of Plenty  14 Jul 2017
General News - page 13 - 425 words - ID 811030523 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 328.00cm2

Cupcakes, care packages, and clean-ups were on the agenda for Year 9 students at Otumoetai College recently as they sought to make connections in their community as part of the Stars youth development programme.

Stars is a 12-month mentoring programme offered by the Graeme Dingle Foundation that supports, motivates and positively reinforces Year 9 students during their first year at high school.

Otumoetai College is the first Bay of Plenty high school to take up the programme.

Stars includes 'four steps to fun', including an adventure camp, peer mentoring, giving back to their community through community projects, and community adventure, where the students learn about what is available to them within their community.

Regional Stars coordinator Karyn Winters says the aim of the programme is to make the Year 9s feel they are connected to the school by connecting them with each other, and to their community.

Karyn works with Year 13 students at the school to run information sessions for the younger students, covering topics such as communication, goal-setting and time management.

"The intention is to build up the relational capacity of the school. The Year 13s have already been there and know what the Year 9s are dealing with.

"The Year 9s tell us they feel like they have an older sibling to talk to and the school has reported that the Year 9s have settled really well into school."

The sixteen Year 9 classes at the college were out and about around Tauranga recently doing their community projects which included clean-ups of the school, the Matua Saltmarsh and a local gully; upgrading an orienteering track at Oteora Camp; selling raffle tickets for charitable groups, baking cupcakes for an SPCA fundraiser; running PE lessons for junior students at Bellevue School and making afternoon tea for Tauranga Police and Tauranga Hospital staff.

Some students also collected donations to make care packages for the homeless which are to be given to the Tauranga Moana Night Shelter.

Another group of students spent the term working on a Matariki-themed mural which was given to Brookfield School.

"These are all projects the kids have thought of themselves," says Karyn.

"The goal is to teach them about their community and what is available to them, but also that the act of giving back is empowering, making you feel like you're making a difference and being part of something bigger than yourself."

Caption Text:
Otumoetai College students Jake Millet; 13, and Erin Murphy, 13, and senior constables Airdrie Baker and Trudi Cantwell, and community constable Paul Wrigley. Photo: Tracy Hardy. \

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