HomeNewsPartnership recipe for success delivering 'Kick for the Seagulls' programme

Partnership recipe for success delivering 'Kick for the Seagulls' programme

By UCOL on Friday, 14 June 2024

Kick for the Seagulls team - Credit Serco New Zealand

Tuesday 11 June saw the success of six ākonga at Kohuora Auckland South Correctional Facility (Wiri Prison) as they graduated with a New Zealand Certificate in Foundation Skills (Level 2) through Sir Graham Lowe’s programme ‘Kick for the Seagulls’, delivered by UCOL. 

The graduation was a proud moment in time for these ākonga as they celebrated their success of completing the 17-week programme that teaches literacy and numeracy skills through the language of sport.

This particular graduation was extra exciting for the students as Sir Graham Lowe and Hon. Mark Mitchell, Corrections Minister, were in attendance.  

Sir Lowie spoke at the graduation, sharing how proud he was of their success. 

“The chance to be part of this course and complete it is just fantastic.. welcome to Team Lowie.. The pride I feel is like that for my children. It thrills me to know you’ve now all seen your potential, don’t lose those [12] principles when you leave here.” 

Sir Lowie also took the opportunity to thank UCOL kaimahi Danny Reilly (Executive Dean of Engineering and Applied Technologies), Ian Drew (Academic Portfolio Manager), and Frank Grootboom (Kick for the Seagulls tutor). 

“My continued thanks to UCOL, Danny, Ian, and Frank. What’s a team without a great coach?” he said while also addressing the six students. 

“A huge thanks to Minister Mark Mitchell for attending today, the first Corrections Minister to do so,” said Mr Reilly during the ceremony.  
Danny Reilly went on to address the ākonga sharing his appreciation for how hard the programme can be, particularly from a physical aspect, as well as the mental challenges of changing their mindset and outlook while undertaking the course.  

“This is not an easy course, I’m proud for all of you. When you leave here, remember the principles, I’m sure you’ll all have your favourite. Mine is to look for the good people, it’s hard to ask for help but look for them and be brave enough to ask for help when you need it.”  

Hon. Mitchell reflected on the words spoken by Sir Lowie, saying “we want to see you succeed. Lowie has given you all life skills that will also help with good decision making.” 

“I’m really proud of you all. As Corrections Minister, I’m backing you guys. You’ve already shown leadership by taking this on, completing it, and encouraging those around you to take the opportunity too.” 

For many of the students, this certificate is the first formal education qualification they’ve achieved in their lives, making this day one they’ll remember. As one ākonga put it while addressing the audience, “we cannot say thank you enough”. 

Speaking with one of the graduating students, he explained he’d been in the Correctional Facility for roughly eight months before getting to be part of Kick for the Seagulls. Thanks to the overall discipline he’d gained from the programme, he was able to move from being in the higher security units into one of the lower-security residences, then began working in the on-site kitchen, and now as a driver for the kitchen service.  

“None of that would have been possible if I hadn’t taken the opportunity to be part of this.” 
Now, he’ll be telling anyone who will listen to “just do it, don’t hold anything back because it’s better to keep moving forward. My success in here is all thanks to this programme.” 

The evidence of this mindset shift is reflected through the gym spaces where the programme is taught; plastered on the wall of the gym is a motivational quote, “you can throw the towel in or you can use it to wipe the sweat off your face” right next to 12 posters highlighting each of the principles of Kick for the Seagulls: 
  1. Plan for a great year 
  2. What is a winning team? 
  3. Let the dog see the rabbit 
  4. No such thing as can’t 
  5. Practice til the lights go off 
  6. Look for the person in the dinner suit 
  7. Never die wondering 
  8. Kick for the Seagulls 
  9. Be ready and well prepared 
  10. Keep shifting the attack 
  11. Put up with the pain 
  12. Discover the power of your team early 
A previous graduate of the programme now works in the Facility’s gym and despite not initially being that interested in completing Kick for the Seagulls, said it had given him a total change in mindset.  

“I wasn’t that keen until I found out I could go to the gym and get out of my unit every day. Once I started though I loved it, I didn’t finish school so it’s given me opportunities for when I can leave here.” 

When asked of his own graduation, pride is immediately evident on his face.  

“I think that’s the first time I’d seen some sort of pride on my family’s faces. I’d actually achieved something after getting into trouble time and time again from such a young age. So that was pretty cool, and now I get to work in the gym which, while I’m in here, is awesome.” 

Along with a solid partnership as the preferred supplier for Kick for the Seagulls, UCOL’s success in delivering Sir Lowie’s programme has a lot to thank for those on the ground undertaking the teaching – including Frank Grootboom. 

“The level of rapport building that’s required to gain the trust of the students is more than any other normal teaching environment. The masks need to come off and there’s amount of vulnerability that’s required from everyone in the room for this to work,” explains Mr Reilly.  

“Frank is involved in the pre-selection process, which includes interviewing the students to determine if they’re suitable for the group learning environment. Because of this, he begins the first class with an existing level of rapport which is great.” 

“We’d love to have every incarcerated person go through the programme, but there is a criteria from a Corrections perspective that the students must meet before being considered for enrolment. However, we are pleased to have a waiting list of potential students within these facilities across the country,” he says.