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CHANGING COURSE
Bay of Plenty Times, Tauranga Bay of Plenty  by Annemarie Quill
14 Jul 2018
Indulge - Page 1 - 590 words - ID 981801044 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 2639.00cm2

A local project helping transform lives

Course boosts confidence

Project K made all the difference to Samara Read's life, she tells Annemarie Quill

GRATEFUL" is how " Samara Read feels as she is about to turn her lifelong dream of being a nurse into a reality, and begin a diploma in nursing in Hamilton.

Speaking to a group of Tauranga businesses and sportspeople, including television personality Peter Williams and Black Cap Kane Williamson, at the Bay Oval last week, she exudes confidence and self assurance.

It is a long way from the "angry" girl she described herself as at a teenager, when she used to get into trouble at school, fights, and struggled to deal with the fact when she was 13 her father had been dealt a prison sentence as lengthy as her age.

Diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety, she says her future felt bleak.

That was back in 2015 when she was selected with a group of other high school teenagers to be part of Project K.

The initiative, for selected Year 10 students, is a 14-month course involving wilderness adventure, a community challenge and individual mentoring.

The programme, which runs in Otumoetai and Mount Maunganui Colleges, is designed to build confidence, teach lifeskills, promote good health and encourage a positive attitude. Read describes the wilderness challenge as pushing her to her physical and mental limits.

"It was literally blood, sweat and tears. We went from Coromandel to the Kamais, battling currents, learning survival techniques, and when I had physically reached my limit, that was then I let go of many of the things built up inside of me." Another part of the project saw her helping out at Kaka Street School and working at Tauranga's food bank.

Through these initiatives, Read was able to discover skills she didn't know she had.

"I learned actually I was a really good leader." Gaining confidence and self esteem was key.

"I learned that I am so much more than the bad events that had happened in my life, and I did not have to be defined by those events." The event at which Read spoke was to raise awareness of the Graham Dingle Foundation, which is the charity which runs Project K, as well as Stars, another high school programme for Year 9s to help the often tricky transition into high school by pairing them with Year 13 mentors. It also funds Kiwi I learned that I am so much more than the bad events that had happened in my ,,life, and I did not have to be defined by those events.

Western Bay of Plenty..

The foundation's namesake, mountaineer and outdoor education pioneer Sir Graeme Dingle, had a goal to transform young lives "with a vision that all young people can be confident contributors to New Zealand".

The foundation's regional manager, Dan Allen-Gordon, told the audience the programmes relied on funding, and the demand for the foundations programmes often outstrips what they can fund.

"There are kids falling through the gaps because there are not enough resources to go around. This is a tragedy because what we do know is these programmes work - taking kids that are disconnected or come from difficult backgrounds or on the wrong path for whatever reason, building a relationship with them and helping them find confidence to follow their dreams."

Caption Text:
Samara Read at a private lunch at Oval with Peter Williams and Kane Williamson. Photo / George Novak
Samara Read talks at the event alongside Dan Allen-Gordon, Graham Dingle Foundation regional manager.

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