The students who take part in Project K have a diverse range of strengths and interests and come from different social and cultural backgrounds. What each of them gains from Project K reflects that diversity, but common themes do emerge: self-confidence, achievement, resiliency and a new-found direction. In these edited speeches, read what some of the 2007 More FM Project Excellence students had to say about their journey.
“Project K has changed my life so much more than anything else I have taken part in. Sure school has educated me and developed my brain but most people in New Zealand have the chance to get all that mandatory stuff.
“Project K has challenged me physically through the three-week wilderness journey, and also mentally through showing me the importance of being aware of others’ needs in tough times as well as my own and doing what I can to help them through it.
“I found that by helping out those that were struggling and making everything go smoothly, it made me feel good and boosted my confidence in myself.
“Before Project K I was a lot like I am now except there was one key thing missing – confidence.
"Project K boosted my confidence so much during the wilderness journey and the community projects, but it was Jonny my mentor who boosted it the most. I can’t quite remember the exact words as I’m only human, but he told me that “if I want something in life I have to work hard and get it because no one else will get it for me.” Through goal setting with Jonny, this gave me the confidence to go out and get a job and get my licence and get sponsorship in my skating because if I didn’t go out and get them I would probably still be living life without them.
“Project K has changed my attitude towards things for the better. For example, when I failed my restricted licence not long ago, I thought optimistically about it instead of pessimistically. Straight away I was thinking about how and what I would have to do to prepare for the next time I sit it, in order to pass.
“I think that if a programme like Project k was compulsory for all youth that they would really achieve their full potential in life and live more rewarding lives because of this. I know this is how my future is going to turn out because of Project K.
“So thank you, Jonny, Dave, Kate, Seals and all the unsung heroes that are part of Project K. Thank you for changing my life for the better but most of all thank you mum; if it wasn’t for your encouragement for me to take part in Project K, I wouldn’t be here now, graduating as part of this life changing programme.”
“Before Project K, I was always this unreliable, unsociable, unhappy teenager who had learnt to fail. If there ever were easier options to anything, I’d take it, and when things got hard, I’d give up.
“My mum was upset that I was failing, and would often blame herself, and that was hard on me because I knew it wasn’t her, it was me.
“I hated public speaking and could not even give a short speech to a class of twenty students. Project K really helped me tackle a fear of mine that I thought I’d never get over. Starting small and gradually increasing the number of people I delivered a speech to was the way to do it, and it helped immensely. I found I could actually enjoy public speaking. This has hugely increased my confidence in everything that I do.
“I have discovered that being able to face my fears, and tackle them gives me a tremendous sense of achievement, and a confidence that has reflected itself in my school grades since being a part of Project K.
“I enjoyed every part of the programme, but none so much as the mentoring partnership. It was during this time I made a life-long friend, and have taken the largest step forward in my life. My mentor is an absolutely loving and caring person who took me in like a daughter, and I feel I owe her a great deal. Tui helped me set and achieve goals and encouraged me to grab opportunities and make the most out of them.
“I came to Project K a very selfish, shy and unsociable person. I stand here today, more confident, more mature, and with better understanding, with my whole life in front of me. I am truly grateful for everything you have given me, and will make the most out of any opportunities thrown my way. I have gained invaluable skills, and made many life-long friends.”
“One of my biggest challenges before PK [was] believing in myself. People used to always be saying to me “there’s no such word as can’t.” I never really liked it when they said that - because I never really understood it. Until the day that I said “I can’t be a good leader!” You can probably guess the response I got, because I very quickly came to realise, that I can be a good leader if I believe so, and I can do anything else too. I learnt that day if you think you can, or you think you can’t, then you are right.
“That is one of the first things I remember about my journey on PK, but as I progressed through the programme, I realised this: each time you push yourself, you learn that much more about yourself. You come out with a greater respect for yourself, your mind and the barriers you can overcome.
“Throughout my Project K journey, challenge has become increasingly more important to me. Not only to work on the challenges that were already there, or those that others set for me, but to set challenges for myself.
“So my biggest challenge on Project K, apart from self-belief? Communication (even with those people I knew best). I would always mumble, while looking at the ground or anywhere else - I couldn’t hold eye contact. But here I am … giving a speech about something that has turned my life around forever - I wouldn’t have done that 18 months ago!
“With Project K providing me with the skill to increase my self-belief and confidence to challenge myself, and many other things (too many to list!), I was able set and achieve many goals; some I never thought I could do before.
“I took really well to the goal setting, even though I was not goal orientated before Project K. Because of this I was able to achieve some awesome things. Things like improved fitness, better time management, my self belief and confidence. I now realise the impact of positive self-talk and self-belief. I have the self-belief and confidence now to do anything and to know I can achieve.
“Although we have graduated and it is the end of this journey, it is also the start of a new journey, as I now have the best skills available to challenge myself and to ensure a successful future.
“My plans for my future? To do for someone what Project K has done for me, whether I become a mentor myself or in my career. Whatever, that is my long-term goal.”