Cantabri­ans urged to break a sweat to help sup­port gi­raffe

The Press - - News - Mad­di­son North­cott

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.

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