Thu, Mar 14, 2024 8:00 AM

Sky high celebrations


Paula Hulburt

A charity that’s helped thousands of Marlborough students is celebrating turning ten – and wants people to leap from the skies to celebrate.

Children across Marlborough have been benefitting from the Graeme Dingle life skills initiative Kiwi Can for a decade.

And to mark the momentous milestone, staff have revealed their popular Drop for Youth fundraiser will again go to great heights.

Regional Manager Kelvin Watt says the parachute drop is a great way to pay it forward.

“We know that there are many more Marlburians waiting for this opportunity to step, jump, fall or be pushed out of their comfort zone… so we’re bringing everyone together and providing that space again this year.

“What better way to celebrate a decade of making a difference, than paying it forward for the next decade.”

One of the first to sign up was Marlborough Boys’ College student Manaia Huntley.

After going through a cancer battle, Manaia says Kiwi Can helped him realise his potential.

“I had heard people calling me resilient during my [cancer] treatment, but I didn’t understand what the word meant.

“In Kiwi Can we learned about important values like resilience. To me resilience is never giving up and trying again and again no matter how hard something might be.

“Kiwi Can helped me realise that I was super resilient, and knowing this is something that will help me for the rest of my life.”

Manaia says he met children during his cancer treatment who did not survive.

By doing the charity jump and pledging to raise a minimum of $1000, Manaia says he is also honouring those youngsters by making the most of every opportunity.

“I want to do everything I can to make them proud. I can do this by making the most of every opportunity that comes my way - like jumping out of a plane.

“You never know what can happen in life and I think the most important thing is to be a good person and help other people.”

In 2014 Kiwi Can began with three part-time staff and around 350 primary-aged students in Marlborough.

By 2023, almost 5000 local young people had benefited from the programme.

‌ ‌Drop for Youth is back for 2024 and Marlborough Boys’ College student Manaia Huntly and Paul Eden from Springlands Lifestyle Village have already signed up. Photo: William Woodworth.

Blenheim Toyota’s Scott McDermid and Fairfield Construction’s Katja Thompson have also been quick to pledge their support and sign up for the parachute jump.

Jumping out of a plane to help, is a no-brainer, Scott says.

“We’ve been proud to be supporters of Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough for seven years now, and I’m happy to jump out of a perfectly good plane if it helps thousands more of our local young people.

“How can you say no to a good cause like that.”

Katja says her own children have been through the Graeme Dingle Foundation programmes.

“We love the way the team are helping support our young people to find their pathway and become amazing humans.

So, I’m going to be strapping into a parachute this year and helping them raise the funds to keep up this important work.

After all, it takes a village to raise our kids, so we all have to step up and make it happen.”

Kelvin says support from the community has been key to the initiative’s success.

“We’re super proud of the progress we’ve made in the last decade, in meeting the needs of young people across the region, but also in connecting the resources to do that effectively,” he says.

“We are very conscious of the high level of community support needed to do what we do.”

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