Building the capabilites of Northland school children

The I Have A Dream charitable trust last week gave a presentation to the Northland DHB following the trust being added to our Payroll Giving programme in June.

The powerful presentation was delivered by I Have A Dream whānau including children, navigators, coordinators and executives, providing an effective cross-section of how and why the trust operates.

Chief executive Ant Backhouse explained to the Board how Payroll Giving donations can enable I Have A Dream to help school children meet their dreams. Donations of as little as $10-$20 a week from 100 staff can cover the cost of making real the dreams of an entire year level of children from any of the schools the charity is active in.

I Have A Dream focused its presentation on strengths and positive aspirations instead of dwelling on negative socio-economic indicators. “We ask students ‘What is your dream?’ and wrap support around that," Ant said.

It’s some of the most in-depth support imaginable, with I Have A Dream navigators pledging to ‘invest’ in students from Year 1 until they enter tertiary education or employment – up to 15 years.  

“We’ll be there for a long time and we don’t just spend money at the end [when problems are occurring],” Ant explained.

80 percent of I Have A Dream graduates from the initial Auckland pilot went onto tertiary education compared to only 30 percent from the control group studied, Ant said.

I Have A Dream is currently focused on four Tikipunga and Otangarei schools where navigators (mentors) currently cover a total of 600 children. Each new entrant will have a new navigator matched to him or her until up to 1500 children directly receive assistance in being matched with their dreams.

Joby Hopa, a well-known teacher of kapa haka and te reo Maori, said when I Have A Dream arrived in Whangarei, “It fitted in with a waka of dreams we already had for our children.” Joby said he helped the charity liaise with churches, community groups and schools in the Tikipunga-Otangarei community. Joby now works as engagement/community relationships manager for for the organisation.

Jaycee Maunsell-McMenamin, whose background is in youth justice and Whānau Ora social work, joined I Have A Dream because “the prospect of staying with kids for 15 years is what appealled to me most – working with community as well as family to catch kids.”

Jaycee is navigator for 80 children including Ngaio Morunga,11, of Totara Grove School. Ngaio told the board her dream is to be an interior designer which stems from her passion for building. IHAD mentor Jaycee has been “kind of like a second mum,” Ngaio said.

“Jaycee is cool and supportive and she gets me. She’s Māori and I’m Māori. I relate to her.”

“Over the next 10-15 years Jaycee will push me to try my best. Jaycee is trying to get me out of my box because I usually like staying in my box.”

The organisation’s relationship with Northland DHB began when chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain helped the trust find its first Whangarei donors.

Nick explained to the Board he was inspired to introduce the organisation to Northland DHB Payroll Giving after encountering Mosa Mafileo who Nick said I Have A Dream helped transform from an “angry and sad” child into a person so inspirational he is standing for a seat in Auckland Council elections.

While I Have A Dream may superficially appear to be a cause “outside of health,” the deprivation work the group does preventing deprivation “Has such a high impact on health,” Nick said. 

Rosemary Lockie of Northland DHB's Coronary Care Unit said she was inspired to become one of the first four Payroll Giving donors to the charity because it's important to enable improvements in our own communities.

"I read Weekly Snapshot’s story about IHAD’s support for building the capabilities of school children. That rang close to my heart because I think that’s a great way to support kids to become the best they can be – especially if they don’t get that support in their private lives.”

Rosemary says she is impressed with the story of Ngaio Morunga aiming to become an interior designer.

“Ngaio’s story is exactly the sort of thing I want to support because otherwise they get lost on the way – and my middle name is Ngaio, by the by!”

Payroll Giving is a voluntary scheme which enables Northland DHB to pass employees’ donations on to their chosen donee organisations. Donors will qualify for a 33.3 percent tax credit for payroll donations. The other donee organisation for 2016-17 is Health Fund Plus (Northland Foundation).

Jaycee Maunsell-McMenamin (L) with CEO Ant Backhouse (centre) and Ngaio Morunga

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