on Mar 16, 22

Turning young lives around in turbulent times

By Fiona White - Driven by a goal of helping young people to realise their potential, the Graeme Dingle Foundation has supported more than 300,000 youth over the last 26 years, through giving them the tools to chart a more positive future and not lead a life dictated by circumstance.

Their programmes give an alternative path and offer young people opportunities to develop themselves, regardless of home circumstances or previous choices.  

An incredible achievement in anyone's book, but the Foundation isn’t sitting back. They are growing their offering across 40 communities and 10 regions around New Zealand – and they need your help to do it.

We spoke with the Foundation's Business Development Manager Stephanie to find out more about the vital work they do to help steer at risk youth onto the right path.  

“Our primary school programme, Kiwi Can, teaches 5 to 12-year-olds values such as respect, integrity, positive relationships and resilience,” Stephanie says. 

“Research shows Kiwi Can reduces truancy and bullying, improves communication skills, builds confidence and helps children play cooperatively and resolve behavioural issues more easily.

“Another programme, Project K, is specifically for 14 year olds with low self-efficacy - the strength of one’s belief in their ability to complete tasks and reach goals. Self-efficacy influences how an adolescent thinks, feels, motivates themselves, behaves and therefore ultimately how successfully they will make the transition to adulthood.

"Alongside being paired with an adult mentor and giving back to their community, their limits are tested on a three-week Wilderness Adventure, where they develop self-knowledge, life direction and learn how to set goals.”

As well as the positive impacts for youth, there is also a ripple effect and return to New Zealanders. 

“For every $1 that is donated to our Foundation, $7.80 is returned to the economy in the form of reduced crime, young people getting better jobs and fewer young people becoming dependent on benefits,” says Stephanie.

As with many charities, many of the Foundation's traditional sources of funds have stopped due to Covid-19, and years of fundraising events have been cancelled. They have had to pivot, not only meet new demands for programmes, but also find other sources of income to help continue their great work.  

An example of this is ‘Career Navigator Community', a pilot programme developed during the pandemic to support 16 to 25-year-olds who are not in employment, education, or training. The programme gives young people the opportunity to build confidence, learn new skills and prepare for the world of work.

The results are a true testament to the Foundation's work: 87% of those who completed the pilot in Marlborough are now in work or training. Due to the pilot’s success, they have also launched the programme in Porirua.

Graeme Dingle Foundation believes it is important to not only do good work, but to prove the difference that it makes. Its programmes are informed by best-practice research and are proven to improve attitudes, behaviour, and academic results, help rangatahi set and achieve their goals, boost self-confidence, reduce truancy rates and at-risk behaviours, and help young people feel more positive about the future. 

The Foundation is also using the knowledge that it gains through its work to help influence policy and decision making more widely. 

“The information that we have is hugely rich with very deep insights about how some of our communities are thinking and feeling in these turbulent times, especially around youth disengagement and social anxieties” says Stephanie. 

“This year we are looking at how we can make this data more accessible to others, which in turn we believe will help create a New Zealand where everyone can reach their full potential.”  

You can support the work of Graeme Dingle Foundation by creating a registry for them (a great option if you have a birthday coming up), donating to them with our Good Gift Cards, or making a direct donation

And for more information about Graeme Dingle Foundation, visit their website. 


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