The Rising Foundation 

Our comprehensive programme supports adolescents to ‘Rise Up’ and get ready for adulthood. The programme begins in Intermediate school where we support our young people as they transition into the Secondary School environment. We stay with them all through their high school career, providing compassionate full time mentors and a friendly dedicated space in which to interact with their dynamic ‘in-school family’. In this environment we introduce them to a wide range of themes, vital for their emotional wellbeing and healthy human development.

Along the way we use outdoor adventure camps, leadership development programmes and workplace exposure trips to promote insight and understanding of the real life that’s waiting for them after school. Our young people experience real consequences resulting from their behaviours and decisions. The differences between their current behaviours and their goals are highlighted, encouraging them to aspire to more and to achieve the goals they choose.

In Year 9 and 10 we take our students through TSI’s 16 week ‘Gem Journey’ – this has grown to be a vital part of our service and adds so much depth and richness to our unique work. We have had a long and fruitful collaboration with the author, Ron Phillips and we are constantly amazed to see the transformation in the lives and attitudes of our rangatahi as they follow the young hero through the Land of Confusion. 

Gem of the First Water and the values, principles and practical themes the story delivers, match perfectly with the programme we run. We often refer back to parts of the story as we continue to reinforce those priceless life lessons throughout our 5-7 year relationship with our rangatahi.

We are confident in the preventative impact of The Gem Journey and as a team we have all commented on the clear difference in attitude between the young people who have travelled on the journey and those who have yet to be exposed to the intervention. The story gives the students permission to admit their faults and gives them hope that they can overcome them. An honesty and vulnerability develops within the group as the chapters of the story pinpoint more issues to address and more models for addressing them effectively.

The relaxed and entertaining nature of the sessions provides safe space for trust and confidence to grow. Comments and questions from the students grow in depth and sophistication as each week passes. Initially there can be some reluctance to open up in front of peers but gradually this shifts to peers encouraging each other and applauding personal growth and insight. 

Our workers feel enriched and empowered with the clear and effective mental health framework that TSII imparts and it is our dream over time to train up more storytellers from our communities to support Ron in his work and spread the vital message of the Gem Journey far and wide. 

We would encourage any other agency working with young people to consider allowing The Gem Journey to work its magic in their lives and on into your community. We are convinced that our society as a whole will benefit when more focused, confident young people ‘Rise Up’ from their challenging backgrounds and diverse communities to lead and inspire.