Pike's challenge a formidable peak

A sense of adventure and giving back to the community has driven 26 Nelson College Preparatory School pupils in their goal to receive the William Pike Challenge Award.

The award was started by motivational speaker William Pike after losing his right leg on Mount Ruapehu in 2007. To receive it, students complete eight outdoor challenges, take on a community-service project and document the process either online or in a journal.

Pupils had to raise $200 in sponsorship to fund their participation, which was a challenge in itself.

Nick Booth, one of the pupils on the programme, said he had a few knockbacks.

"You have to pick yourself up; it's not the end of the world. There's always another business who will give you money," he said.

Nick is refereeing intermediate boys and girls basketball games to meet his new sport requirements.

Other pupils are taking on community projects, including running water stations at marathons and helping out at a creche.

Scott Keenan has completed his community service volunteering at Natureland. "I feed the animals and do the dishes."

This weekend the pupils will plant 1000 trees at Parramatta Flats, near Cable Bay, after already planting around 2600 in May. The work they are doing will help support the populations of fern birds and banded rail in the area, two species with declining numbers.

Ian Price, coordinator for the Forest and Bird project, said the pupils would improve the area's ecology.

Pupils are required to document their journey to the award and several students have put together blogs featuring photos taken on their exploits.

The award, which began in 2010, started with only a few schools but has now gained traction within many intermediates.

Teacher Dian Edmondson said this was the second year the school had taken up the challenge, and they were the only school in the region to do so. The challenge was limited to 30 schools this year and spaces for next year were filling up fast.

Edmondson said she got the students interested by inviting William Pike to speak to the boys, and holds a class set of his book, Every Day's a Good Day.

She was impressed with the new hobbies some of the students picked up, including cooking and wood turning. "A boy last year chose knitting."

The course is all about new experiences and working as a team.

"They get to take part in different things, know their limits and it's OK if you fail," Edmondson said.

The Nelson Mail