Helping children develop self-belief and resilience is the Foundation's contribution to society.  We want every child to know that what they have inside them is greater than any obstacle.

Our sequential learning and mentoring programmes for young New Zealander's aged 5 - 18 years help develop life skills, confidence and empower our young people to find purpose and direction. Jessica Collins from Tauranga is one of the many young people we have helped.

Jess is a post graduate of Project K and this year won the Sir Edmund Hillary Youth Achievement at the Graeme Dingle Foundation's Excellence Awards 2017.

"She has had to overcome more than most young people should ever need to", says Dan Allen-Gordon, Regional Manager for the Foundation's Bay of Plenty office.  

"It would have been an easy option for Jess to take the path of many she knew and not realise her true potential, but when selected for Project K she committed fully."

Dan continues, "While taking part in Project K, Jess became an independent youth, and found a place to board. Without any parental support she went to school and worked. She saved for her first car and continued to excel at school and by year 13 received the 2nd top Maori Award and had achieved 334 NCEA credits." 

This is her story.

"Like too many children of Aotearoa, I grew up in survival mode. Just trying to make it through each day. From dysfunctional roots, an abused child surrounded by adults with alcohol, drug and mental health issues I was heading down a destructive path.

By the age of 11, drugs and alcohol were no stranger. These substances were my way of protecting myself from an existence I could not escape, this was my warped Korowai.

A Korowai has many different purposes, one is to protect. At age 13, just before I was chosen for Project K the police became involved in my family and I had to stand against someone in court that I loved. I felt wrapped in darkness.

The first time I tried to commit suicide I was 13. I swallowed the pills and lay in wait for the wings of a swallow to attach itself to me. I was ready to glide away.

Project K could have not come into my life at a better time.  Project K taught me so much.

At 15, I moved out of “home” and went on the youth benefit. Every single aspect of project gave me the strength and ability to do that. I remember not being too scared about it because I knew I had learnt many skills through Project K and that I wasn’t truly alone, that Dan and my mentor and the other supports were right there, on my shoulders and they would protect me.

Ma te huruhuru ka rere te manu, is a whakatauki that means adorn the bird with feathers so it can fly. Project K did this for me and I was no longer the bird that wanted to glide away from my life but I was wrapped in a korowai of support and began to soar.

I completed year 13 and am now at Massey University, enjoying life.

This programme isn’t a year long- it’s a lifetime, it has changed my life.

The Graeme Dingle Foundation is weaving lives back together. This is a great organisation that is creating bright futures for the children of Aotearoa.

Thank you Graeme Dingle Foundation for getting me to where I am today and positively transforming my story forever."


For as little as $60/month you too can help make a difference in a young person's life. Contribute now to help us transform young lives forever.