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Real lives, real difference

Stacey Beazley, Fraser High School, Hamilton

"Before I started Project K my life wasn’t a happy place to be like it is now because I had no confidence in myself and my self-esteem was really low. I only had two friends. I used to wake up in the morning dreading that I had to go to school because I had to face school with just myself because I had no friends to go to at school."

"My life now is just so great. I have so many more friends now because I was able to reach out to them.  Before Project K I wouldn’t have been able to do that because I wouldn’t have been able to back myself, but now Project K has just helped me to realize that I have the potential that I am worthy of those things, that I am interesting. And that people do actually want to get to know me."

Dominic Bird, Project K Graduate and International Rugby Player

Thanks to Steve King at Corporate Media for filming Dominic Bird in this interview.

Ayla Barnes, Otumoetai College, Bay of Plenty

Ayla Barnes was struggling before she attended Project K. But she worked hard and overcame her troubles through setting goals and discovering her own potential during the programme

“I never use to care about what happened to me. I’d let myself get hurt, or put myself in bad situations. In a way, Project K has saved my life.

I had no goals and no self-respect. On Project K I learnt about choices. I learnt that I have to choose to make something of myself, and that I won’t get anywhere in life without putting in the hard work. I had a broken relationship with my family, and I had trouble maintaining friends and healthy relationships. I lied, I cheated and I stole, and I often wondered why so many people didn’t like me. But after all the things I learnt and experienced throughout Project K I now have the ability to have healthy, honest and loving relationships with my friends and family.

I wish every teenager got the opportunity that I did, I truly believe that if they all got the opportunities that I did now they would be the making of a peaceful and fair world later.

I hope for New Zealand’s sake more teenagers, and not just the troubled ones, can get the chance to be a part of Project K.”

Grace, 20, Otumoetai College, Bay of Plenty

Shaynesse, 19, Otumoetai College, Bay of Plenty

Briana-Jade Thompson, Birkenhead College, 2013

Briana Thompson

Briana-Jade Thompson, a young student from Birkenhead College completed the Project K programme and was one student awarded the Project K Excellence award at the 2013 Excellence Awards. We were so inspired by her. We’d like to share an extract from her speech.

 “Most of you don’t know me, and you probably never will, but I am here to tell you that change is possible. Change for a better future. We all suffer sometimes. We’ve all experienced that horrible emptiness. A hole inside you which seems as though it could never be filled, but no matter how bad things seem they can always get better.

Project K helped to show me this. One of the things that I am most grateful for from Project K is the fact that it took away this sense of loneliness. During the two and a half weeks that I spent on the Wilderness Adventure I was forced to spend constant time around other people, with barely any alone time. Although this was far out of my comfort zones I definitely am grateful for it. It gave me the opportunity to bond with others and reconnect with actual people, rather than typing to others through an online chat room. Throughout the Wilderness Adventure we all had to face a lot of challenges, both mentally and physically.”

Amaziah, Andrew and Taelah, Birkenhead College students 2014


Project K has made a huge impact on my life. It has made me a better person and after being away for 3 weeks I’m happy to see my family again. Being a part of the programme I have built new relationships with people I know and with people I thought didn’t come to Birkenhead College. It is an awesome feeling because now we are all close like a family and we are there for others when they are feeling sad or happy. I really got to know everyone individually because everyone reminded me of my family back at home.

During the wilderness adventure, we all got to do cool activities like kayaking, biking and tramping. My favourite part was the tramping which we did for 4 days. All the activities were hard at times and we all struggled through some parts but we were able to dig deep and make it through together. On our last day when we were coming back we got to do a workout at the MYND gym and do an ice challenge as well which was really fun.

For the community challenge we were given ideas and then we had to look for something that has to do with the community so we thought of hosting a ‘fun day’ at a primary school. It was awesome because we got to show skills that we learnt and got to interact with younger kids then us which was really fun.

We finally got to meet our mentors one by one. In the beginning we were all asked what we would want to gain from our mentors. And for me, I would like to be able to be open with my mentor and talk about things that are more difficult to talk to my parents about. And also to get involved with sports and music as well.


 Project K has been a life changing experience and it has also helped me change who I am towards others. My attitude and my behaviour has improved also. During the wilderness adventure the group’s dynamic changed. Before that, I didn’t know some of the other mentees but there were some I did know. And throughout that time I got to know everyone and we got to build strong friendships together. The wilderness adventure was so challenging but we finished it and I am so proud of the 11 other students that completed it with me.

Part of the community challenge, we had to do an amazing race at a mall. There were tasks on our checklist that we had to complete. We had to use the skills that we learnt on the wilderness adventure and act out scenes in front of everyone. It made us step out of our comfort zones but the best part was that we got free Subway which was the best!

Being a part of the Project K programme helped me open up and participate with others. Normally at school I would just be playing basketball and hangout with the people I knew, not really getting involved with much at school. But now I feel a lot more confident and I know that I have gained a lot more friends from the programme. After the wilderness adventure I think that people now see me differently. My behaviour and attitude has changed and it has definitely motivated me to aim high and be the best that I can be for myself.


The wilderness adventure for me was difficult but with everyone’s help I overcame many challenges. Project K is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am glad and lucky that I was picked to be a part of it. The wilderness adventure has helped me greatly with my self-management and my respect towards people. And my attitude and behaviour at home and school is improved too.  My attitude wouldn’t have been any different if it wasn’t for the challenges and obstacles we faced whilst on expedition.

We learnt a lot from being on the wilderness adventure and what I got most from it was leadership. Even though I hardly showed any leadership at school, the programme has motivated me to put myself out there and participate in new things as well as giving things ago. I would like to be the captain of my football team and I know that I do have the potential and the qualities to be one. But before I was too shy and didn’t feel like I would do a good job. Now that I have more self-confidence and more motivation in myself I know that I can be a great leader.

A challenge I faced was time management. Being a teenager, we all have to deal with being organised and on time. I did find it hard especially when we had a lot of things to do during the wilderness adventure. There were some activities that were challenging and everyone had their ups and downs. But we were able to stick together and help one another out.

I’d like to thank all the instructors for this amazing experience. I’d like to give a special thanks to Amelia my mentor especially. Whenever I was homesick or just needed to talk to someone she was always there and I am very grateful. Project K has helped me step out of my comfort zone and be more confident at home and school. I know that over time I can achieve anything that I set my mind on and I will continue on growing and developing more skills that will help me in achieving my goals. I am proud to be a Project K mentee.

Ree Bailey - Northcote 2014 Wilderness Adventure Speech

Hello everyone. For those of you who don’t know me my name is Ree Bailey also known as shadow master 132 in the world of online gaming.  I would like to take the time to talk to you about my journey.

On the wilderness expedition we had to sleep in the tents, I was at the bottom where I got kicked in the face every night. We had to cook our own food and we had to be independent.

I could go on but I don’t want to talk to you about where we went or what we saw or did. No, I want to tell you my story.

The reason why I went on project K is because I wanted to be normal and be someone else and I thought it would be good for me so did everyone else. But I never thought that I would be appreciated for who I really am but on project K I let out who I am, and you know what, they liked me.

So I don’t think these past 17 days was about learning how to build a fire or how to read a map, I think it’s all about knowing who you are and where your place is in life.

Before Project K I was quiet and afraid. In these 17 days I became part of a family because with Jade’s confidence, Trent’s athletic abilities, Vince’s leadership, my comedy, Taimin’s jokes, Mere’s funniness, Phineix’s heart-warming presence, Natasha’s kindness, Jessica’s lisp, Travis’ weirdness and Deniro’s back talk, we created a family.  A family that stands up for you, a family that will pick you up whenever you fall, a family that is there for you no matter what.

In the end, what we learnt is that life will build walls where you’re headed, but with the help of a friend, the support of a team and the love of a family, you can overcome anything, and when you’re standing there at the top of that wall you can see the world changing for you and in that moment you know that you made it and the world is ready for you. But…the journey is not over yet.