Success Stories

Some of our students' amazing stories

Mark Smith

Mark SmithMark Smith says Project K was life-changing. He doesn’t skip school any more, is doing better academically, is more confident and has a positive outlook.

Those changes have been noticed in particular at Burnside High School, where he is now a prefect and holds the school’s Cross Cup for clear character development.

“After being accepted into the Project K programme I do not miss one class, one form period or anything,” Mark says. “My attitude has completely changed. I thought school was a joke. Now I have a driving force.”  

He puts that down to gaining confidence during the wilderness and community stages and learning how to set and achieve goals with the help of mentor Chris Raateland.  At first, Mark thought Project K goal setting was stupid. Now he has goals written on sticky notes scattered around his bedroom. The turnaround came after he decided on goals he really wanted to achieve during the programme, “put his mind to it” and reached them.


The most valuable thing he learnt on Project K?

“To give everything a go and never give up. Nowadays, I try to give everything ahead of me a go, no matter what the challenge may be.”

 Mark graduated in 2004 from Project K Canterbury’s first programme. After completing Year 12 and 13, the 17-year-old says he is considering work in the building and aviation industries.  As a prefect, Marks says he is passing on what he learnt during the programme.


“It’s great because it’s like, if you can teach one person something, then they can pass it on. If you can keep up the cycle like that, then everyone is going to be so much happier.” 

Katie Wysoczanski

Katie was one of the students taking part in a programme for Birkenhead College. She was a young woman who had hung her head constantly, looked deeply troubled and struggled to converse. Three years after she had participated in the year 10 programme, she was asked to speak at a black-tie function. There were 400 scarily ‘successful’ people in the audience. Katie was now a statuesque young woman of 17 who walked gracefully onto the stage, head held high, she began to speak:
Hello, my name is Katie Wysoczanski. Three years ago I did a Project K programme. At the time I was feeling very bad. My brother had just committed suicide and I was thinking of doing the same. I wasn’t doing any good at school but now I’m doing Bursary……….and I’m doing okay. [Kiwi for doing quite well.] In Project K they make you set goals. One of the goals I set was to get in the North Harbour netball team, and last week I was chosen.”

She smiled and left the stage to thunderous applause.