The Wairarapa graduates of Outward Bound’s 2019 Korowai Course. PHOTO/FILE

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
erin.kavanagh-hall@age.co.nz

Outward Bound alumna Kyleigh Cork with her two children. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Kyleigh Cork still recalls the most important lesson she learned from Outward Bound as a teenager: you can always step past your comfort zone.

In 2015, Kyleigh, then a student at the Wairarapa Teen Parent Unit, received a scholarship to attend a course run by the Outward Bound Trust – designed to help young people realise their potential through outdoor adventures and physical challenges.

The experience was “a leap of faith” for the 19-year-old mum – but one that proved to be “life-changing”.

“I had to grow up when I had my son, but the growth I experienced at Outward Bound eclipsed that,” Kyleigh, now 26, said.

“I was made to push past barriers that existed within me. Now I’ve done that, I am much more open to trying new things.”

This year, the Outward Bound Trust is reaching out to the community to help it provide the same opportunity to a new group of Wairarapa rangatahi.

In September, 14 students from various Wairarapa schools will attend Outward Bound’s Korowai course: one of the trust’s 14 programmes aimed at secondary ākonga [students], held at Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds.

The three-week programme includes a variety of experiences to test participants’ physical and mental endurance: such as bushcraft, tramping, rock climbing, sailing and waka ama, and high ropes courses, as well as community service activities.

Outward Bound’s schools’ programmes are supported financially by students’ home regions – with local funders contributing, among them, the $63,000 needed to support the 14 students over 21 days.

Karla Paotonu, fundraising and partnerships manager for the Outward Bound Trust, said Wairarapa organisations have so far contributed $44,000 for this year’s Korowai course – but the trust still requires $19,000 to make up the shortfall.

Paotonu said the trust is keen to hear from “generous business owners, philanthropists and community organisations” who can “help secure the long-term viability of this very special course”.

“The magic of Outward Bound is that it’s helping students become leaders in their lives,” she said.

“The challenges they undertake in those 21 days help them gain confidence, develop their leadership skills, learn teamwork, and form strong relationships.

“That all helps the students create a sense of purpose and a lifelong belief in themselves – and that has a ripple effect throughout the community.

“Courses like Korowai can make a huge difference for young people – and funders can take part in that.”

Korowai is designed in partnership with all eight of Wairarapa’s secondary schools and has supported 42 ākonga from the region since 2019.

Students selected for the course are those who show commitment, potential for leadership, and compassion and care for others – but may not yet have developed the confidence to fully realise their potential.

Kyleigh Cork was in a similar position – having left school at 15 and without any formal qualifications, she was unsure of her direction in life.

Seven years on, she credits her Outward Bound experience for giving her “the confidence to take on new challenges”: such as relocating to Palmerston North with her young family, embarking on a new job with Palmerston North City Council, and overcoming her shyness.

“I was a shy person and didn’t like talking in front of a bunch of strangers – but I pushed past all of that. Now you can’t shut me up!”

Paotonu said the Outward Bound Trust is hugely thankful to the organisations who have supported Korowai: including Masterton Trust Lands Trust, Trust House, Carterton District Council, Holborn Investments, Greytown Trustlands Trust, and the Lions Club of Martinborough.

  • For more information about supporting Outward Bound’s Korowai course, contact Karla Paotonu at kpaotonu@outwardbound.co.nz.The course runs from September 27 to October 17.


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