NZ first for local prison

by Mike Isle

The first prisoner in New Zealand to achieve The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award at Gold level has been presented with his award by Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis inside the Youth Unit of Christchurch Men’s Prison near Rolleston.

Two other young offenders, who have yet to fully complete the Gold Award, were presented with Gold Sectional Certificates; two more received Silver Awards, while six received the Bronze Award.

Karen Ross, New Zealand national director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said the awards challenged young people.

“They challenge them to get out of their comfort zones and learn a new skill, give service to their communities, take part in an adventure and get physically active. They not only teach them practical skills like teamwork and communication, but they also challenge them on a personal level — in ways that build identity, confidence and self-esteem,” she said.

Joe (not his real name), who received the Gold Award, agrees, saying: “I’ve got a different state of mind now, and I’m thinking more positively about my future. When I get out, I want to be a role model for my niece and nephew — and my own kids one day — and talk to them about what they can achieve in life.”

And that is exactly the objective of Chris Allan, whose Joshua Foundation administers the award in Christchurch Men’s Prison Youth Unit with funding from Kiwi philanthropist Michael Friedlander.

“A key for the Joshua Foundation is to ensure that young people have a positive and realistic self-image — they will know and accept their own strengths and weaknesses and be more aware of their own potential,” Mr Allan said.