Practice till the lights turn off.” That’s one of the twelve principles former rugby league coach Graham Lowe created for his educational initiative “Kick for the Seagulls”. EIT is now launching the programme in Hawkes Bay Regional prison, collaborating with Corrections, Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) and UCOL.
Graham Lowe didn’t enjoy traditional methods of teaching when he was at school. He recognised that by using the language of sport, students could become engaged in learning. So he developed his “Kick for the Seagulls”. Those who will complete the programme will gain the New Zealand Certificate in Foundation Skills.
Kirsten Westwood, EIT Head of School Health and Sport Science, has seen Lowe’s programme succeeding in in Northland. Prisoners will gain a qualification at Level 2 that could lead to further education, training or even a degree. “We can provide the opportunity to succeed at education to people who may never had a chance before,” says Kirsten.
EIT tutor Joshua Whatarau is going to teach at the prison and is looking forward to the new challenge. For 17 weeks, Monday to Friday, the former kickboxer who graduated from EIT in 2017, will use his skills to give students a real buzz. “In the morning we will do foundation learning including literacy and numeracy. In the afternoon it’s all about sport and implementing theory into practice,” explains Josh.
Sport becomes the vehicle for learning as prisoners are generally motivated to do physical exercise. “That’s a huge hook,” says Tony Denton, the prison’s principal adviser for rehabilitation and learning. “The delivery style works well for students who have been unsuccessful with traditional classroom teaching. This unique programme celebrates successes while challenging poor behavior.
“We’re delighted to have EIT on board to deliver a programme that will make a difference to our men,” says Tony.
For Josh “Kick for the Seagulls”, is a gateway to other courses. “The men can use it as a platform to enter the work force. It’s definitely a chance to re-introduce themselves to their community.”