Ignite Students Hit the West Coast

by Bree Arnott

This year, students on the Ignite Programme graduated the 3-year programme following a final week of awesome adventures based at Te Tai Poutini (West Coast). This final trip helped to cement their learning and development and proved to the instructors just how much the boys have improved across the course of the programme.

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The 10 students who attended the final week were exposed to a variety of outdoor activities in the area based just south of Westport, a departure from their earlier experiences which were based closer to home. The activities throughout the programme, a joint initiative between Motueka High School, Whenua Iti and a generous local donor, are aimed to push the students outside of their comfort zones, encourage teamwork, and build their confidence and resilience as they overcome various challenges. This week was no different with cold, dark, high and new experiences all thrown at them!

On day one, the group headed to Westport, spending time together while walking out to the seal colony at Cape Foulwind and then onto the lighthouse. It was a chance for the students to reflect, reconnect with one another and prepare for the final experiences ahead.

Day two was the big adventure for the week. The group headed back inland to Murchison where the boys had a fantastic opportunity to raft down the mighty Kawatiri (Buller) River which was a real highlight and a new, albeit cold, experience for many.

 “My favourite part was definitely the white-water rafting, it’s the most amazing experience I’ve had – it was super good.”

Day three was a day of heights – heading back out to the coast to do some rock climbing and abseiling, which the extensive cliffs along the coastal section near Charleston are ideal for.

On Day 4, the group went caving to explore a section of the dark underground world, followed by some reflection time and smores at the Nile River (yes, there is a Nile River in New Zealand and if you don’t know what smores are you need to find out).

On the final day the group headed back to Whenua Iti where necessary cleaning and unpacking tasks were attended to (a much faster process now they’ve had some practice!) before sharing reflections and celebrating at the end of programme graduation with whānau, staff and supporters.

As a result of the cumulative experience amassed by the students across the three years of the programme, they were able to acknowledge the varying benefits to themselves as individuals that will help in future endeavours and when they head back to school. This included the development of skillsets that will enable them to pursue and nurture a love of the outdoors:

 “I really enjoyed the opportunity to get out and learn, and develop new skills,”

and also significant benefits to their social skills, confidence, leadership and teamwork:

 “I’ll take away a lot of social resilience, also a lot of leadership skills.”

“I’ve taken away a lot of confidence, and also being able to work with a lot of people now that I don’t think I could have worked with originally.”

This is the second group of students to have completed the 3-year programme which is generously funded by a member of the community to provide a positive stimulus for boys in their crucial mid-teen years. The donor has now attended both Year 11 graduations and has noted the greatly improved confidence by the participants, their presentations, interaction and overall maturity. This is supported by the reflections made by teachers, parents and the instructors who work with the students.

“I’m really grateful that I’ve been on the Ignite Programme. I hope the other boys get just as much benefit from it as I did.”

For more information about the programme read our article: Leadership Ignited in Youth

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