Cantabrians urged to break a sweat to help support giraffe
A touring giraffe coaching classes in managing mental health, grieving, and practising digital safety needs help to reach more Canterbury children.
Harold the Giraffe, Life Education Trust’s mascot, is a familiar face delivering healthy messages to more than 20,000 Canterbury pupils from Hanmer Springs to Rakaia, Christchurch and Banks Peninsula annually. A small fee paid by schools for the visit covered about a quarter of the running costs, but fundraising and community support was the only way to keep the resources available, trust spokeswoman Meri Wynen said.
The trust, whose yearly operational costs exceed $350,000, will receive 100 per cent of the proceeds raised from corporate tent sales from the Run to Remember, a 10-kilometre event in February. The funds will go towards programmes teaching everything from health and wellbeing, nutrition, and relationships to stress management and online behaviour.
It would also support lessons such as ‘‘encouraging kids not to post half-naked pictures online and not to do stupid things with substances’’, Wynen said.
The educators never exactly know what they are walking into, so classes cater specifically to the complex and diverse needs of each school, such as offering coping strategies for Canterbury children with anxiety issues stemming from the the earthquakes.
‘‘One time a teacher arrived at a high school that had recently lost one of their students to suicide and needed to scrap what she had planned and really cater to them, addressing what had happened and talking about it. ‘‘She told them we need to confront this, this isn’t normal and it’s OK to have feelings about it
. . . lessons like that can be really important for the students working through it,’’ Wynen said.
Trevor Grice founded Life Education in Christchurch 30 years ago. Since then, 300,000 of the region’s primary and intermediate students have been visited by Harold the Giraffe.
Corporate sites at the Run to Remember event cost $500, which includes 10 race entries, and participants are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch and a gazebo to set up on the day.
The run, on February 24, starts in Victoria Park and heads up along the Port Hills before turning down Rapaki Track and finishing in Hansen Park.
Registrations are open with those entering before the end of the day on January 21 eligible for one of seven early bird prizes.
Harold the Giraffe and supporters.