Currently at Rangitoto College, and previously at Bluelight, Ben Pollard has over five years of experience facilitating the Award programme. He loves, “what the Award does, fostering potential within our rangatahi”.
Both Bluelight and Rangitoto College run the Award to allow students to develop skills that will help them throughout their lives. Bluelight is an organisation which works in partnership with the Award to deliver the programme into disadvantaged or remote communities, and with refugee groups. At Rangitoto College students work through achieving their Awards in a group called Piki Ake (Rise Up) made up of students focussed on self-improvement and contribution to the community.
Rangatahi involved in both programmes are funded thanks to Ministry of Youth Development. MYD’s desired impact aligns with the Award; to build supportive communities where rangatahi become resilient, participate meaningfully in society, and reach their potential. Their focus is on improving equity of outcomes for young people and benefiting them through stronger connections and increased opportunities.
Reaching out to young people who may not have had the opportunity to do the Award is incredibly rewarding for Ben. Giving them the chance to reach their potential is the heart of his mission. After Bluelight, Ben became a teacher and wanted to continue facilitating this change. As an Award Leader he is a mentor, supporter, and an integral part of our Award, as all our Award Leaders are. At Piki Ake his students meet weekly, receiving valuable mentorship, and participating in service at their school. This empowers them with a sense of giving back to their community, which means a lot to them. Other diverse volunteering opportunities include conservation and fundraising activities.
Being “boots on the ground” and showing them, “that there’s another side of the coin to themselves, pushing them to realise their potential,” pay the greatest dividends for Ben. Students who were shy and nervous initially have now transformed to be student leaders. This demonstrates for Ben, “that the work I’m undertaking is impactful. It creates that positive perpetual motion that whatever they learn today will be carried forward into the future. You’re contributing to a bigger picture. You’re making a big difference for someone.”