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But the Hornby High School student’s life has now been turned around thanks to the Graeme Dingle Foundation.
The year 11 student’s journey towards self-confidence and resilience has been recognised at the foundation’s 2020 excellence awards, where she won the Project K excellence award for her commitment to the programme and overcoming hardships.
Jaleel recalled how Project K turned her life around, which equipped young people with the tools they needed to overcome difficult obstacles.
"Last year I was an idiot, doing things that I shouldn’t be doing.
"I had little or no respect for anyone, making stupid decisions, physically hurting myself because I was trying to deal with things that I was struggling with,” she said.
“I lost two very special people to me to suicide and because I hadn’t dealt with it, I was basically lost and just scraping by daily.
"Through my Project K journey, I learnt how to make friends with people outside my circle, to give people a chance, to grow as an individual and how to hone in on my team-building skills.
"I learnt to become mentally stronger and I can now comfortably ask for help if I need it."
Project K is a 14-month programme designed for year 10 students, which focuses on building confidence, teaching life skills, promoting good health and encourages positive relationships and attitudes.
It involves three parts – wilderness, community challenge and an individual mentoring partnership with a trained mentor.
Sir Graeme Dingle said this year’s awards, at a time when Covid-19 changed lives, showcased what the foundation was all about.
“The ethos of our foundation is focused on helping young New Zealanders overcome obstacles. We want them to have a life full of possibilities so they can achieve their dreams and make the most of their unique talents,” he said.
“We want to help them make a contribution to society.”
- Kiwi Can co-ordinator Karla Guerin, of Redwood, was also an award winner, receiving the outstanding programme co-ordinator award for making the most significant contribution to a school or community programme at the Graeme Dingle Foundation 2020 Excellence Awards.