Kiwi Kids will be taking big steps across the nation this April in aid of keeping young New Zealanders on track. The Foundation for Youth Development (FYD) is calling on all New Zealanders to dust off their trainers, grab their water bottles and head out on The Big Walk to support our NZ youngsters.

The Big Walk, FYD’s annual fundraising event aims to bring youth issues into the spotlight, encouraging politicians and opinion leaders to look more closely at the challenges and obstacles children and teenagers face as they grow up in New Zealand society.

“Every day young New Zealanders face decisions that can change their path completely,” says Graeme Dingle, mountaineer and co-founder of FYD. “Today there are more challenges facing our young people than ever before.

“The Christchurch earthquake has reinforced for me the need for our responsibility as adults –parents, teachers and mentors across the country – to equip our young people with the tools to help them to be resilient; to face challenges with courage; to support others less fortunate, to face the future with optimism and to rebuild when disaster strikes.”

“At FYD we help Kiwi kids develop the successful tools and skills they need to make healthy positive decisions that will change the course of their future. The Big Walk will not only fundraise for our youth development programmes, it will also highlight the reason why we need to expand these programmes throughout New Zealand schools.”

Last year Dingle and hundreds of others walked the length of New Zealand, assembling on the steps of parliament to highlight youth issues in an event called The Big Walk. Now Dingle and his team at FYD are focusing their efforts on fundraising and raising public awareness of their work with a totally new community initiative, also called The Big Walk.

This year’s The Big Walk will take place in nine iconic locations around New Zealand including the Twin Coast Cycleway in Kaikohe, the Waitakere Ranges in Auckland and Haupouri Station in Hawke’s Bay. kids and families are being encouraged to walk through beautiful forested areas, wetlands and coast ways en masse and enjoy a community barbecue and activities to boot. A separate and new initiative is being developed for the Christchurch region.

Money will be raised through registrations and food will be available for purchase on the day. Anyone can make a donation through the website, ANZ branches and Subway restaurants across the country.

“The Big Walk is not only a great way to support young people, but also to enjoy our beautiful country,” says Graeme. “The great outdoors is integral to FYD’s programmes, so it made complete sense to develop something that everyone could get involved in.

“At FYD we believe that our kids should be at the top if the mountain, not subterranean. That’s what The Big Walk is all about helping us to continue and hopefully reach more young people every year. We’re putting the call out to all New Zealanders to get behind Kiwi kids. Come and join us, you’ll be walking for our country’s future.”

Participants register online and with the choice of a 2.5, 5 or 10 km walk, there is something to suit all fitness levels. All proceeds from The Big Walk will help raise funds for Foundation for Youth Development’s (FYD) youth programmes.

FYD programmes use the great outdoors, inspirational classroom leaders and world class mentors to help kids from age 5 to 18 keep on track, develop confidence and self-belief and create goals for the future. Programmes focus on leadership skills, building confidence, developing life skills and teambuilding to help kids discover possibility and motivation, creating a youth population with a positive outlook and eyes open to the future.

Founded in 1995 as the Project K Trust by Graeme Dingle and Jo-anne Wilkinson, FYD is now a leader in the field of youth development and runs several, proven programmes – Kiwi Can, Stars, Project K and MYND. FYD’s programmes are run in 20 regions across New Zealand by licensed community trusts, together reaching over 18 000 young people every year.

The Big Walk takes place on Sunday 3 April at locations across New Zealand. For more information visit http://www.fyd.org.nz/

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