Boost­ing stu­dent con­fi­dence

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By ANNA LOREN

AURORA Amani would prob­a­bly still be ‘‘that shy girl in the cor­ner’’ if it wasn’t for the Stand­Tall pro­gramme.

She was in­tro­duced to the ini­tia­tive in year 7 as a quiet, in­tro­verted 11-year-old.

Just two years later she was named its Leader of the Year for 2011 and grad­u­ated as dux from Ma­nurewa’s Rand­wick Park School.

It’s a trans­for­ma­tion the now 14-year-old cred­its largely to Stand­Tall.

‘‘I came into the pro­gramme as a shy girl who kept to her­self but Stand­Tall helped me to come out of my com­fort zone and be more con­fi­dent,’’ she says.

‘‘If I hadn’t done the pro­gramme I’d prob­a­bly not be so­cial and still keep to my­self.’’

Aurora is one of more than 140 young peo­ple from seven South Auck­land schools who have ben­e­fited from the Stand­Tall pro­gramme since it be­gan in 2009.

And reg­is­tered run­ners in this year’s Ports of Auck­land Round the Bays fun run and walk will be help­ing it spread its mes­sage to even more young peo­ple.

The Choice Foun­da­tion, which de­liv­ers the pro­gramme, is one of six char­i­ties that will ben­e­fit from pro­ceeds raised at the an­nual event.

The foun­da­tion is set to get $20,000 which will help take the ini­tia­tive to some of the 15 schools on its wait­ing list.

That’s great news for gen­eral man­ager Carl Sun­der­land. He says the pro­gramme makes a ‘‘mas­sive’’ dif­fer­ence to young peo­ple’s con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ties. ‘‘ We teach them over the two years so they know what op­por­tu­ni­ties are out there but the thing they get from the pro­gramme is they re­alise that th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties are for them and they can do it,’’ Mr Sun­der­land says. ‘‘Th­ese are things that were pie in the sky be­fore but now th­ese are things that are for them too.’’

Stand­Tall tar­gets in­ter­me­di­ateage chil­dren and aims to in­crease their op­por­tu­ni­ties and grow their po­ten­tial. It in­cludes work­shops, com­mu­nity projects and ca­reer ex­pos, as well as trips to ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions and a five-night camp.

The pro­gramme is unique in that it is the only one for ‘‘good kids’’ at low-decile schools, re­ward­ing young peo­ple who have the right at­ti­tude and the mo­ti­va­tion to suc­ceed, Mr Sun­der­land says.

The 2012 Leader of the Year, Teisa Semisi, says Stand­Tall helped her de­velop new skills and choose a fu­ture ca­reer path in pub­lic speak­ing.

Like Aurora, the 13-year-old be­gan the pro­gramme lack­ing the con­fi­dence to speak in front of a crowd.

Two years later she beat hun­dreds of con­tes­tants from around the re­gion to win the Auck­land Pri­mary Prin­ci­pals As­so­ci­a­tion speech com­pe­ti­tion. ‘‘I don’t think I’d have the knowl­edge of what I want to be and what can help me with­out the pro­gramme,’’ she says.

And 2010 Stand­Tall Leader of the Year Linda Su’a says the pro­gramme was a key fac­tor in her win­ning Robert­son Road School’s lit­er­acy award.

‘‘We had to do a lot of jour­nal work and it taught me to work hard and put all of my ef­fort into it,’’ she says.

Go to auck­land­har­bour and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to see a video about the Stand­Tall pro­gramme.

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