The idea was founded by Kere Ell who actively manages the kaupapa (programme).
Various organisations are involved who oversee the mentors, manage the programme logistics and work with the schools involved.
This year, four volunteer mentors from Jean Sandel Retirement Village, in New Plymouth have worked with local rangatahi (young people) to offer their guidance and wisdom and knowledge.
This intergenerational interaction is invaluable to the students who have all been chosen by their school as rangatahi who could benefit from mentoring.
New Horizons Aotearoa partnered with Red Cross to build benches for their buddy bench programme. The benches are gifted to local schools to support student connection and reduce isolation.
They provide a safe place in the school grounds where students can sit if they would like to talk to someone, or if they are anxious, sad or lonely.
Jean Sandel's mentors Peter, Ken, Doug and David have worked with students from Coastal Taranaki School building a bench and donated their buddy bench to Rahotu School – a country school in south Taranaki.
Rahotu School plan to landscape the area around the bench with nīkau palms and native plants while teaching their students about kindness and fostering relationships.
Horizons has also been working alongside the Department of Conservation (DoC) and the Taranaki Maunga Project. The rangatahi have been building pest eradication traps and the Jean Sandel group will soon be placing theirs in Egmont National Park.
They will also be invited to a DoC release of kiwi, seeing first-hand the impact their work will have on predator numbers in the National Park.
In supporting them, our mentors have helped the students develop a sense of responsibility and trust, learn practical building and construction skills and they have learnt about protecting their natural environment.
The programme fosters positive relationship building with mentors and helps students to be ready to connect with existing initiatives at high school and consider possible vocational opportunities for the future.
And for our wonderful village kaumātua, it offers the mentors a sense of purpose and giving back, not only practical skills but values, caring and nurturing to the young in the community they live in.