The Big Walk

growing great kiwi kids

During the summer of 2009-10, I teamed up with the Foundation for Youth Development (FYD) to help New Zealand's young people.

Confident and healthy young people are critical to the success of building vibrant and strong communities. New Zealand has a poor record when it comes to young people's health. The rates of youth suicide, death from vehicle injuries, unplanned pregnancy, and drug and alcohol use are among the highest in the western world.

Hearing how one teen had no aspirations and limited know how, inspired my idea of The Big Walk. Te Araroa, a 3,000 km trail that stretches the length of New Zealand, set the scene, Graeme Dingle, veteran mountaineer and co-founder of FYD provided the support. And so an exciting catalyst for change commenced.

Graeme and fellow FYD co-founder, Jo-anne Wilkinson, began in Bluff, with me starting in Cape Reinga. Groups of New Zealand youth who were involved in or had graduated from FYD's programmes spent up to five days and approximately 100 kms with us on the trail. Joined by two professional wilderness facilitators we included concepts such as goal setting, attention to detail, and reward and recognition through ‘fireside chats' and activities designed to further develop their life skills.

Both north and south travelling groups met in Wellington on 1 February 2010, and walked the length of Lambton Quay to be greeted at the Beehive by Government officials. Campaign participants, Ministers and CEOs spent the next two days discussing key learning and insights from The Big Walk with an aim to find a way to combat negative youth statistics while adding sustainable value toward youth development in New Zealand.
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The Big Walk