Over 200 students, teachers and community group representatives were entertained this month by local singer / songwriter, Luke Thompson, as the 2009 ZESPRI® YouthBank Ambassador.
The ZESPRI® YouthBank awards ceremonies, held in Tauranga and Ohope this month, provided the students with the opportunity to present funding to their chosen recipients while being rewarded for their participation in the programme with inspirational words from the ambassador.
Luke delivered a heartfelt speech about the importance of being able to give a little back in any way you can. “Your riches in life will come from your friends, family and experiences, not from your possessions,” he said. Luke appealed to the students to follow their dreams and ideas and to think about what they really want to do as they me to the end of their school years and enter a new phase in their lives. Luke also rewarded the students with a sneak preview of songs from his new album and a collection of his older songs.
One student, Amy Taylor from Mount Maunganui College, commented that she had learned so much from the programme such as team work, speech writing and public speaking. “I also learned that even the smallest gestures of giving can make the world of difference to those in need. It was really cool that we got to meet and have photos with Luke – he is a good singer and his music is fun.”
ZESPRI® YouthBank is a community sponsorship scheme where 12 Bay of Plenty secondary schools receive $2,000 each to allocate to non-profit youth-related projects in their community. With a maximum grant allowable of $500 per recipient, the students take responsibility for promoting the scheme, assessing each application against criteria they’ve developed and selecting the successful recipients.
This year’s recipients took the opportunity to thank Luke, ZESPRI and organisers New Zeal Foundation for being involved in a programme that really makes a difference in their communities and outlined what they would use the money for.
ZESPRI’s Director of Corporate and Grower Services, Carol Ward, spoke to students about the importance of being aware of the communities around them and was moved by the diversity of the organisations receiving funding. “It’s a tribute to the students. They have obviously put a lot of thought into who their recipients will be with funding provided to initiatives from school orchards, to clothes purchases for the children that come through Women’s Refuge, to youth training in the Order of Saint Johns. It’s such an honour to be involved in this programme and see our Bay of Plenty communities benefit in so many ways.”
This year over 88 students were involved in ZESPRI® YouthBank, investing in their communities by donating funds to 57 non-profit organisations. The secondary schools involved were: Edgecumbe College, Trident High School, Whakatane High School, Opotiki College, Te Puke High School, Aquinas College, Bethlehem College, Mount Maunganui College, Otumoetai College, Tauranga Boys College, Tauranga Girls College and Katikati College.
The schools worked closely throughout the year with programme administrators, New Zeal Foundation, who developed the YouthBank concept in 2003. New Zeal’s Graham Hare works with the student committees throughout the process, assisting with selection criteria and ensuring that all recipients are registered charitable trusts.
“It was a fantastic sight to see the sense of accomplishment on the students’ faces and the gratitude from recipients. All who are involved in the programme should feel very proud of the achievements this year,” said Graham.