Project K pair now firm friends
PENNY McEwan and Jain Kolone graduated from the Project K mentoring programme last June.
And they have such a strong bond the Epsom charity fundraiser and the Otahuhu teenager have kept in touch ever since and now consider themselves friends.
The duo met two years ago after One Tree Hill College pupil Jain, 16, was selected as someone who would benefit from Project K, the Foundation for Youth Development run course which sees teenagers go through a confidence boosting series of experiences.
The aim of the programme is to use the backdrop of New Zealand’s outdoors to help 13 to 15-year-olds who lack selfconfidence or with other factors holding their development back.
The programme inspires young people to reach their full potential through building self-confidence, teaching essential life skills such as goal setting and teamwork and promoting good health and a positive attitude.
As well as having a significant outdoor experience, the youngsters are teamed up with an adult mentor to help them set goals and experience different aspects of the world.
But Penny says she has got as much from the programme as Jain.
‘‘I came to it because I realised I had room in my life particularly around children and young people and it was something I wanted to bring into my life more,’’ Penny says.
‘‘For me I’m a different sort of person in Jain’s world and I hoped I would open some doors and show her some new things but I’ve gained more than I expected to.’’
The pair came together at a day when mentors and mentees met for the first time. Following a day of activities a ‘‘speed dating’’ process was held to see which people would gel.
‘‘We sat in a circle and spent five minutes with each other and at the end we got to write down who we thought we would connect with and we had chosen each other.
‘‘We officially graduated in June last year but at the end of the formal part we said we wanted to stay in touch.’’
For Jain having Penny as a mentor and mate has helped bring her out of her shell.
‘‘Socially wise she has really helped,’’ Jain says.
‘‘Before I used to be so shy in group situations. Meeting Penny it kind of helped me talk to people more so a lot of doors and opportunities have opened for me.’’
The pair bonded over a shared love of music – Jain is a talented singer – and many of the goals they set have been around that.
In fact in the last year Jain won the Dame Pat Evison Scholarships Award for the arts which has seen her receive singing and guitar lessons and has performed at Government House.
Academically things are on the up too.
‘‘My dad’s noticed a huge difference in my schooling.
‘‘Before I was OK but since Project K I’ve become better at school because I’m goal setting – I’m now getting merits and excellents.’’
Mates: Penny McEwan and Jain Kolone have built on the relationship forged during the Project K mentoring programme.