Blue Light has created a initiative for school leaders across three South Auckland schools, to help them build connections, learn new schools and build resilience. Called JAM, after the three participating schools - James Cook, Alfriston and Manurewa, the scheme takes place one morning before school a week. The sessions include exercise, breakfast and personal development, and Blue Light connected with Raise Up to support the delivery of the programme, due to our extensive experience working with young people.

Who does this support?

The JAM programme in South Auckland engages 30 student leaders of different ages to form a “leadership cohort,” a concept born out of interschool conflicts. The initiative breaks down barriers and exemplifies respect and cooperation among the participants and the schools.

How does it benefit these young people?

For participants of the JAM scheme, this collaboration means access to a wider array of tools and resources to help them grow and succeed. It signifies a stronger support network that understands the complexities of growing up in today’s world and provides a safe space for expression and development.

With Raise Up delivering part of the programme, Raise Up crew leaders Vaughn and Brandon’s influence is profound. Their relatable and contextual teaching methods, coupled with practical life skills, resonate deeply with the students, fostering a realistic approach to leadership.

The Raise Up team’s influence is evident in the programme’s structure, which emphasises activity-based learning through real-life scenarios. This immersive approach ensures that lessons in conflict resolution, empathy, communication, and leadership are not just taught but experienced. The programme aims to assist in emotional regulation, leadership, self-esteem building, and conflict management.

What does the programme look like?

It’s not the usual school bus or parent drop-off for the programme. Instead, in the early morning, students get picked up by the programme organisers and taken to the host school for the week’s session (the schools take turns hosting). Once they arrive, it’s straight into an exercise programme. It's important to keep this programme constantly challenging and interesting, mixing up hip hop, cross-fit style circuits, Pasifika and Māori dancing, and poi, among other activities. The JAM programme had never offered dancing until Raise Up introduced it. Now, it has become a core part of the exercise programme, offering a much more expansive range of movement.

Participants are then engaged in activity modules that aim to build life skills, and leadership potential, and to allow space for discussion on important issues to them. Brandon and Vaughn talk to the participants on their level, bantering and chatting. They really connect with the students, asking questions like “What type of leaders are there?” Using a variety of examples helps all the students see themselves as leaders. Vaughn hopes to demonstrate the way to live a good life; “this is what you can do today.”

After the activity modules, everyone comes together to share some kai (food). These communal meals are a crucial element, allowing for personal connections between the instructors and participants. This part of the programme is “just as important” to Brandon and Vaughn, getting to know the participants personally.

Why are we collaborating?

The partnership began with the Raise Up team's introduction to the JAM program via the South Auckland Raise Up crews. Their involvement in hip-hop instruction with the JAM participants quickly gained in popularity, and showcased Vaughn and Brandon’s exemplary role-modelling for the students. Impressed by more than just their footwork and excited by what the guys were doing with Raise Up, the JAM team was keen to integrate Raise Up’s wider expertise into the programme, and now the Raise Up team support the delivery of the personal development sessions.

Raise Up’s work in the programme has been recognized by the JAM scheme, describing their efforts as “very engaging,” “the young people listen to you,” and “you’re on their level.” They like “your style, your dynamic.” Both parties are keen to continue their collaboration and find other opportunities for partnership.

Brandon and Vaughn couldn’t be happier for this opportunity. “Raise Up have a strong name in the community,” they shared.

The success of this collaboration between Raise Up and Blue Light JAM is a shining example of what can be achieved when community organizations come together to support and uplift youth. It’s a partnership that not only teaches valuable life skills but also fosters a sense of belonging and purpose among the young people it serves. As this initiative continues to grow, it promises to bring about positive change and inspire a new generation of leaders in South Auckland and beyond.

Want to be involved?

For more information on how to get involved or support this initiative, please visit Raise Up website or donate online.