Adventurous Hornby High students welcomed home

Tired, sore but happily exhausted, 12 students from Hornby High School got a hero's welcome as they cycled through the school gates today to mark the end of a 19-day adventure.

Their fellow students lined the school driveway and applauded them as they completed the last few metres of their 200km expedition.

The adventurous group of students were taking part in the Graeme Dingle Foundation Project K wilderness adventure programme.

The students received a heroes' welcome from classmates at Hornby High. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
The students received a heroes' welcome from classmates at Hornby High. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
Project K is a 14-month mentoring programme, designed for year 10 students, which involves a wilderness adventure, a community challenge and an individual mentoring partnership with a trained mentor.

It focuses on building confidence, developing life skills, and encouraging a positive attitude by participants , with the end goal of arming students who show potential for change, with an increased self-belief in their own abilities to complete tasks, achieve goals.

During their 19-day adventure in the wilderness, they spent the first five days completing a practice overnight hike, rock climbing, abseiling, map reading, and learning to pitch tents in the Southern Alps near Arthurs Pass.

Rock climbing at Windy Point. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Rock climbing at Windy Point. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
They then undertook a five-day tramp carrying all their own food and shelter as they hiked in Lake Sumner Forest Park from Windy Point to the halfway hut, Lake Marion, Hurunui hut , Lake Mason and Lake Taylor.

Their three-day mountain bike leg then took in Lake Taylor station, McDonald downs and Lees Valley before another hike into the hills nearby.

Their final ride was back home, arriving in the fog to a rowdy cheer from classmates and parents at the school.

Jrae with Tenanihere, 3, and Mihaka, 2, who were happy to see him home safe and sound. PHOTO:...
Jrae with Tenanihere, 3, and Mihaka, 2, who were happy to see him home safe and sound. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
James Jones, father of Jessie Jones (14), said he was so proud of his son while Belynda Wilson, mother of Jrae Wilson (14), said she was glad her boy was home.

“His nieces and nephews had been calling him everyday to see where he was and how he was going.

“I thought he might not have made it through, as he hasn't done anything like this before but now I’m really proud of him,” she said.

Jrae said it was hard work, especially sleeping on the ground and hiking, but he enjoyed it all, except for the sandflies and blisters.

Graeme Dingle Foundation Project K programme co-ordinator, Chris Morland, said he was proud of the students and the challenges they had overcome in a harsh environment that was completely unfamiliar.

“The changes in them from day one to day 20 are incredible - from not wanting to be challenged to thriving in a challenging environment,” he said.

- By John Cosgrove
- Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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