Sir Graham Lowe and Dr Jerry Shearman at the graduation.The national roll-out of the Lowie Foundation’s Kick for the Seagulls education and sport development programme saw the first group graduate from Manawatu Prison recently.

The men, aged under 24, completed the 17 week programme with the guidance of a UCOL tutor and the prison’s physical education officers.

Supporting the programme’s success has been the creation of “Tu Mai”, a youth space where youth live together and are supported by a mentor, custodial staff and case management.

Sir Graham Lowe and Dr Jerry Shearman, UCOL’s Executive Director Education and Applied Research, presented the graduates with their New Zealand Certificate in Foundation Skills (Level 2) and NCEA Level 2.

Prison Director Mark Cookson says, “Tu Mai has helped these young men to improve their behaviour and attitude through positive role modelling, structured activities, tikanga and kaupapa values as well Lowie’s 12 dynamic principles.”

Speaking directly to the graduates, Sir Graham told them “you have done an outstanding job and I’m so proud of you.” As well as their certificates, each graduate was presented with a Lowie Foundation t-shirt.

The ceremony was a “special moment for UCOL,” says Dr Shearman. UCOL has worked with Corrections collaboratively, tailoring the delivery of the programme for Manawatu Prison.

He encouraged the graduates to “keep striving to do things that make you a better person.”

Talking about the programme one graduate said “I’ve earned my NCEA Level 2. I didn’t think I’d get it," while another said “It’s activated my passion for physical activity.”

The classroom and gym-based learning was the first Kick for the Seagulls programme delivered in a prison outside of the Auckland region.

Kick for the Seagulls educates prisoners through the language of sport to teach subjects like maths, reading and writing.

Planking challenge.

As well as promoting physical activity, it uses non-traditional teaching strategies to engage learners in project-based learning.  It has a strong cultural component and celebrates success while challenging poor behaviour.

Programmes are currently running in NRCF, Spring Hill Corrections Facility, Hawkes Bay Regional Prison, Rimutaka and Otago Corrections Facility. In coming weeks it will be available at more prison sites.

You can read the Stuff article more about the programme in Manawatu Prison and view the video from the graduation.