Deuce x Kiwi Can
Realising that there were too many kids struggling with the challenges of life, and with some of the worst youth suicide rates in the developed world, Shane Anselmi, Managing Director of Overland Footwear Group, started the Young Hearts Project 5 years ago. Supporting youth across NZ and Australia, The Young Heart’s Project seeks to empower and inspire for the future, through four charity partners; Graeme Dingle Foundation’s Kiwi Can, Great Potential’s Mates program, Youthline, and most recently Headspace AU.
This May, The Young Hearts Project have teamed up together with the Graeme Dingle Foundation, supporting the incredible work that Kiwi Can does for our young people. Gifting each of the deserving Auckland based teachers a brand new pair of Deuce sneakers of their choice, Kiwi Can leaders can focus on their work impacting the lives of our youth, while being comfortable on their feet.
Helping to overcome the issues facing our young people through values based programs taught in schools across NZ, Shane says “The Kiwi Can leader, and the school, teaches kids important things like goal setting, making the connection between respect and relationships with other people, [and] how important connection is in doing the right thing and being accountable. [These are] all great messages that these kids often haven’t been taught, and for that, the program is really an outstanding success.”
“We realised in this country in this beautiful country, New Zealand, that too many kids struggle with the challenges of life. We wanted to do something about it. So we formed The Young Hearts Project, trying to support, empower and help build resilience in young people.”
We caught up with four Kiwi Can leaders to discuss what the program means to them, the challenges that young people face in NZ, and how Kiwi Can lessons are truly changing the heart of our community. Echoed throughout are the leaders’ resounding passion for Kiwi Can, helping to transform kiwi kids lives and empower their futures.
In her second year as a Kiwi Can leader, Brittney finds the small, everyday ‘aha’ moments the most rewarding, “especially kids who struggle to socialise positively, when they come to realise that they can respond or react in a positive way rather than through anger or through violence. We have a little boy at our school who’s been really angry and involved in a lot of fights… but after starting to come to Kiwi Can, he realised he didn’t have to be violent. He could actually talk it out with whoever he was arguing with. Even the teachers in his classes said that his behaviours improved, and he was getting more involved in participating.” She has one clear message to schools thinking about getting involved with Kiwi Can - “do it… it goes so much further than a lesson”. Over the duration of the term, children learn values, de-escalation skills, and are given recognition in a dynamic and playful environment, resulting in higher levels of engagement and a genuine excitement at school.
The Program Coordinator for Manurewa, Pukekohe, and Mercer schools, John has been with the Graeme Dingle Foundation for over 8 years, starting with Project K and then transferring into Kiwi Can two years ago. He loved the idea of working with outstanding leaders, but also working within different schools and seeing the wider reach of the program as a coordinator. He’s never looked back. A reoccurring theme, John finds his involvement with both leaders and young people rewarding. “Just seeing young people come through the program really empowered, and the way they have a different outlook on their lives, and the things they can take back home and change, but also seeing that we can ‘move’ our Kiwi Can leaders too. It’s really great to see how they develop with them, to actually plant seeds into the children’s lives, and then see the fruits of their harvest over the year of the program.” John loves his weekly coffee sessions with the leaders, working through the incredible work they have achieved, the small moments, and how they can continue to improve the lives of our young people in the face of their challenges.
Here has been involved in Kiwi Can for the past 8 years as a leader – most recently becoming a Program Coordinator, and is a true testament to the success of the program, having been a Kiwi Can kid herself. Here has learnt a lot throughout her time both in the program and through teaching, saying to expect the unexpected. “They come up with the most amazing answers that you don’t even think of… the way that they speak to each other because that’s a really big thing. Even though we don’t really think about it, you see it [Kiwi Can] actually being practiced not only in the Kiwi Can classroom, but outside too. The change that I see happening within the kids, and also the environment that we’re all in. Whether it be in the school or out in the community too.” Having personally experienced the positive effects of Kiwi Can herself, Here says you “won’t regret it” to any school considering incorporating the program.
A Kiwi Can leader at Papatoetoe West Primary School, Mac has been with the program for over five years, and wouldn’t change his experience for a thing. Having found his passion for supporting youth and their struggles; previously working in an orphanage in Indonesia, Mac says the work is incredibly rewarding. “Just seeing the kids grow in their own lives… with some of the backgrounds that these kids come from and that they are able to adapt. I feel thankful myself that I am able to plant some sort of seed in their lives and they are able to grow up and be better people in their own families and the community. It’s why I do it.” On the success of the program, Mac believes its down to the dynamic learning environment the program presents, saying that Kiwi Can is “a fun environment to learn in, and when there is a lot of fun I think kids are more attracted to attend. They are more attached to the program and they attend. The program and values are taught not just through classroom learning, but through games as well.”
Over the course of a week, 8-10 deserving Kiwi Can leaders and coordinators visited our Deuce store on Teed street, Newmarket, finding out about how Deuce is helping to make a difference to their incredible program. Radiating warmth, and full of character, the leaders were given the opportunity to relax, be spoilt, and choose a brand new pair for themselves, taking another step towards changing the future for over 30,000 young people involved in Kiwi Can.