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Making Community Connections – A Way To Improve Wellbeing

June 7, 2017
By Rowan Milburn

It is hard not to be impressed with the stacks of donated food, beds, treats and toys that are taking over the PE office. I would go so far as saying it looks more like a doggy daycare than a space for planning exciting lessons.

It is Pai project time in Junior Health, an initiative that connects students with a good cause within our community. This is the first time that this project has run in this form at Hagley College and the worthy recipients are the SPCA and Second Chance Dogs. It was purposefully kept small in nature, but what it did was empower students to be part of something outside of their normal lives. This involved asking friends, whānau, staff and students to donate in whatever way they could.

Focusing on helping others has been identified as a positive influence on personal wellbeing. It takes the immediate focus off the individual and helps our young people look at issues wider than what they may be currently experiencing individually. We can all recognise that feel-good factor of doing something for others, and getting our young people to experience that has been valuable.

One student, who went above and beyond for the cause, is Nicolette Sanson from 10SD. Nicolette made vanilla muffins and set up a stall on Rapaki Track and sold them. Nicolette’s motivation was that she wanted to do her best for the project and it wasn’t so much about the specific cause as it was about the opportunity to go above and beyond what is expected to help.

Nicolette chose Rapaki Track to sell her muffins for two reasons. One, she lives on the road to the track so it was convenient, and secondly she knew people often walk their dog there so would be sympathetic to the cause. Given that she raised $62.40 through this initiative, I think she was right! Nicolette also chose to fundraise through this means rather than just giving a donation as she wanted to spread the word amongst more people about the cause and give more people a chance to contribute.

The Pai project has taught Nicolette that a lot of people care about animals and a lot of people will contribute in many different ways.

Nicolette was most impressed that the College is choosing to fundraise for community-based initiatives rather than for their own cause and that it shows students and families that there are bad things that happen in the community but we have the power to help and make change.

The most surprising part of the interview for me was when Nicolette confessed to actually being a cat person. Her family breeds them, actually. Makes me realise it was never about the cause but about making a contribution.

Bridget Salkeld, Nicolette’s tutor and PE/Health teacher described Nicolette as being someone who really lives our College values both in school and out. This is high praise indeed and this Pai project was a way for Nicolette to shine in the areas of Trust, Respect, Integrity and Personal Resposibility. Thank you for your wonderful contribution, Nicolette.

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