Sports-mad Waikato teens who are struggling at high school or are looking for a vocational pathway to employment have been thrown a lifeline thanks to a new partnership between private training provider NZMA and The Lowie Foundation, an independent New Zealand charity founded by rugby league legend Graham Lowe.
The Foundation strives to change young people’s lives through education and sport, and from May, NZMA Waikato will deliver its unique Level 2 sport, recreation and fitness programme, ‘Kick for the Seagulls’. The 18-week course has a strong focus on literacy and numeracy, using sport as a hook to engage students back into education and improve their academic achievement. NZMA will also start delivering the programme to two classes of 15 students at Ngawha Prison in Northland.
According to NZMA Chief Executive Mark Worsop, Kick for the Seagulls targets those who have fallen through the cracks at high school or those that are simply looking for an alternative educational pathway, setting them up with the building blocks they need to pathway into further study or meaningful employment. Part of the Youth Guarantee Scheme, it will be delivered free to 16 – 19 year olds.
“We are very excited to be offering this programme and we believe it will be extremely popular. It will re-engage students who have potential but who have become disconnected from education. It is very much geared towards keen sportspeople, although not necessarily elite performers,” Mark said.
Although contextualised around sport and recreation, the programme is underpinned by a holistic approach to youth development and students develop their soft skills and literacy and numeracy, in a wide range of contexts. Far from your average classroom setting, they will participate in projects, workshops, fitness training, mentoring sessions, field trips and more. They’ll graduate with the New Zealand Certificate in Foundation Skills Level 2 and their NCEA Level 2.
The programme has been running in Northland for the past two years and according to Graham Lowe it has been extremely successful.
“We started out with a small group up North because we wanted to prove that it worked – and we got a fantastic response,” he said. “By partnering with NZMA we can now extend the programme. It has given us more scope, and opened up another community that we think we can add benefit to.”
The programme is based around the Twelve Dynamic Principles, common-sense philosophies which Graham has developed throughout his own career, and ones which he says can be applied in all areas of life for personal success. They include gems such as practice til the lights go out, never die wondering, and discover the power of your team early. Kick for the seagulls is another of the principles, and though based on advice dished out on the rugby field, it encourages people to look for the openings, and spot the opportunities – sage advice that can be applied in all facets of life. It aligns perfectly with NZMA’s core vision and values, and the provider’s commitment to make a meaningful difference to the lives of its students, their families and their communities.
“NZMA’s vision fits in with our vision,” said Graham. “They immediately understood what we were talking about and striving for. For the Lowie Foundation to have this partnership with NZMA it really is a win-win.”