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Student Volunteer Army Recruits 32,000 Students

Student Volunteer Army Recruits 32,000 Students for New Primary School Programme

Community entrepreneur and Student Volunteer Army (SVA) founder Sam Johnson announces 32,000-strong primary school army – one of the largest mobilisations of its kind

Minister for Community and Volunteering Hon Alfred Ngaro, Kelston MP Carmel Sepuloni, conversation sector leaders and Auckland councillors will join Sam and 20 Auckland-based primary schools in officially launching the initiative on Friday, 4 August at Roberts Road Reserve, Te Atahu, Auckland.

More than 1000 schools and 32,000 students throughout New Zealand have signed up to the Student Volunteer Army’s (SVA) new Primary School Programme – one of the largest mobilisations of its kind.

The initiative will see classrooms turned into SVA platoons, tasked with carrying out volunteer projects in their local community.

An official launch event is being held on Friday, 4 August with cabinet ministers, members of parliament and students from 20 Auckland primary schools working together on a conservation and restoration project at the Roberts Road Reserve in Te Atatu, Auckland.

Minister for Community and Volunteering Hon Alfred Ngaro, Kelston MP Carmel Sepuloni, conservation leaders, and SVA founder Sam Johnson will be among those present.

Johnson instigated the programme following a request from teachers seeking to adopt the SVA project management model into their curriculum.

“The SVA story has influenced young people all around the world,” says Johnson, who continues to receive a steady stream of overseas requests to meet with youth leaders and present at conferences.

“While no other New Zealand university has fully replicated the SVA model, there’s been sustained interest from New Zealand primary school pupils in particular, as well as groups of secondary students. The concept of working together, having fun and helping out in the community is clearly something that young people clearly have a natural affinity with.

“Local communities throughout the country stand to benefit from this new initiative, particularly as momentum continues to build. We are excited about harnessing the power and enthusiasm of these young volunteers to help tackle important local issues.”

Students from Freyberg Community School in Te Atatu South recently joined the programme, and will be at Friday’s launch event. Their project involves ‘adopting’ the Roberts Road Reserve and upgrading it through painting, track building and planting.

Teacher Matt Reyland says students are “bubbling with excitement and ideas about how we can get out and help others in our community”.

“We're creating such a fantastic project and can't wait to get started. We want to encourage our students to be active, contributing citizens and to value making a difference to others by how they live their lives.”

Minister for Community and Volunteering Hon Alfred Ngaro says the programme is a great opportunity for “our youngest New Zealanders”.
“We know that people are more likely to continue volunteering if they start early, so this is also a great initiative for the future of volunteering in New Zealand."
The SVA has partnered with School Kit Ltd, which develops curriculum-based resources for teachers, to make the programme available to all primary schools throughout the country. Teachers are provided with a ‘Volunteer Action Kit’ to develop an SVA Primary School Platoon in their own classroom.

Funded largely by the Government’s Community Leadership Fund, the resource materials have been developed by specialist teachers and designed to integrate with Years 4-10.

Students are tasked with organising a volunteer project with the purpose of meeting a need they have identified in their local community. Each platoon will provide photos of their service project and share the impact of their work on social media.

Projects in the pipeline or already underway include making local parks predator free, adopting a conservation area, book drives, and sending get well cards to hospitals.

Kylie Power from School Kit says the SVA’s programme is a unique way of empowering and motivating students to think beyond the school gate and get hands-on in their communities.

“The tools in the kit make it easy for students to come up with a unique idea and turn it into reality using the tried and true SVA project management model,” says Power.

“Using this model each student has a defined role and set of responsibilities like managing finances, logistics, equipment or safety. Teachers report that the beauty of the challenge lies in what it draws out of the young people themselves – how they step-up, speak out, solve tricky problems, work as a team and stick to a plan.

“The 32,000 kids engaged in service projects across the country using this kit right now are creating the sort of memories with their classmates that will stay with them for a lifetime."

The programme also received funding support from Bill and Tolly Kermode. The NEXT Foundation CEO and his wife believe in the power of volunteering and know the sector well.
“NEXT’s vision is to create lasting, positive change for our country – it supports projects that are transformational and inspirational,” says Kermode. “SVA’s new Primary School Programme fits all those descriptions and Tolly and I are proud to support the team taking the SVA movement to the next level.”
Says SVA President Jared McMahon: “We see this as an opportunity to inspire students of all ages to undertake action that strengthens the communities they live in, and in doing so learn lessons we hope they will value for the rest of their lives.”

Teachers can freely download the SVA Primary School Programme via www.sva.org.nz or search for it on ITunesU.


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