The great outdoor challenge
A group of young students is about to embark on a year of education, adventures and community service, thanks to the William Pike Challenge Award.
Mangere's Sutton Park School is the first low-decile school in South Auckland to benefit from the outdoor activity-based programme.
The challenge was started by adventure enthusiast William Pike and aims to get kids active in the outdoors and teach them skills to overcome life's obstacles.
Mr Pike suffered life-threatening injuries and had part of his right leg amputated after he and good friend James Christie were caught in a volcanic eruption on Mt Ruapehu in 2007.
The teacher's love for adventure returned him to the outdoors after a long rehabilitation and he now shares it with students from 30 New Zealand schools.
"It's an amazing opportunity to share my life skills," he says.
"I have a passion for the outdoors and for education so to be able to share that with the kids, it can't get much better than that."
Mr Pike launched the challenge at Sutton Park when the school's social worker approached him after hearing him speak at a conference.
Mr Pike says it is a chance to give kids experiences they might not get otherwise.
Twenty Sutton Park students are taking part in the challenge and will complete two activities each term.
Caving, rock climbing, sea kayaking and overnight survival skills are included.
Participants will also spend 20 hours in community service and 20 developing a new sport or hobby.
"Students will learn how to overcome and manage changes in their lives," Mr Pike says.
They will also develop a connection with their broader community and build good relationships with others.
Deputy principal John Milne says the programme is perfect for the school, where teachers are trying to prepare the older students for college.
"A lot of that is about growing leadership and getting them to a point where they can take more risks," he says. "It's a fantastic opportunity for the students to broaden their horizons a bit."
Go to williampike.co.nz for more information on the William Pike Challenge Award.