© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

The journey to find their voices

Zion Dayal
GD Foundation

Over 4000 children around the country fail to excel due to their unstable mental well-being. But, one exclusive foundation is helping to reduce that.

Social anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression.

Young Cantabrian immigrants are routinely not receiving recognition because of their birthplace.

Kids living in low socio-economic areas, coming from low-income families still dealing with the fallout from the 2011 earthquake.

These are difficulties which still haunt many young Cantabrians.

The fear of being judged by others leads our youth to bottle up their feelings, fearing that if they were to express it, they may be bullied or mistreated.

A lack of self-confidence and an inability to speak up restricts many young adults into hiding their feelings.

For a select bunch of teens, who I interviewed it was alarming how their lack of confidence impacted how they made friends and their fear of being seen as a social liability around their peers.  

A recurring problem for these kids was their high level of social anxiety. Arising from problems within their household, hiding their inner demons and having to fight that battle on their own.

“It makes me feel that people will talk behind my back, makes me feel that I don’t look good enough”, Year 11 student Noah Sefo said, as he continues to overcome his battle with social anxiety.

Ivan Malpaya arrived in New Zealand from the Philippines and says hard for him to fit in because no one took him seriously. He was the foreign kid who people assumed couldn’t speak English.

He fell into the stereotype, leaving him isolated. He had no social support network at school and his grades suffered because of it. Who could he turn to?

Qyanna Curry, a student who fell into a trap of hanging around the wrong people. She felt she got too caught up in trying to fit in and make the right social decisions which eventually took a toll on her self-esteem.

These students all face a mental challenge to either fit in or stand out. And failing to do so, the toll it takes on them mentally leads them to doubt and isolate themselves.

 Self-esteem and self-confidence are two recurring feelings that the students brought up. It impacted on how they lived their lives, the decisions they made and their everyday fear of being put down by those around them.

This is where the Graham Dingle Foundation strives to make a difference. The foundation runs programs for children aged between 5 and 18, and helps build life skills, confidence and teaches kids to find purpose and direction in their lives.

The foundation looks to tackle a bunch of alarming statistics that impact kiwi children:

Graham Dingle Stats

From a 2012 Infometrics research report done in the US, the foundation acknowledges that negative childhood experiences such as abuse and domestic violence play a part in children growing up to be more likely to suffer depression, have poor adult health, poor job performance and an increase in suicide rates.


Graham Dingle Graph

The Graham Dingle Foundation’s Canterbury manager, Noeline Allan, said that a lot of the children they are helping suffer from post-traumatic stress after the Christchurch earthquakes.

She says a lot of those children that suffer from it are from low socio-economic families who don’t have the resources to cope with the trauma.

Allan said that one of the problems these kids face is fitting in socially when they move schools or finding the motivation to pick up new activities.

 Kiwican is a scheme the foundation has implemented in low decile primary schools.

She says the foundation aims to be a fun, quick moving, highly interactive, positive program, that teaches our young people the core values of and communication skills that they need to be effective adults. 


They are helping around 4000 children this year, which a big step up from last year when they were assisting just over 800 children. 

Watch below for an extended interview with Noeline Allan.

Examples of kids through the Graham Dingle Foundation:

Noah Sefo is a student at Hornby High School and is a part of the Graham Dingle Foundation’s programme.

He constantly worried about what others thought of him. Up until recently, the only place he felt safe was at home.

He finds it difficult to speak out, often worried when he leaves home how his lack of social skills will affect him and how people will view him.

“It makes me feel insecure, it makes me feel scared and worried,” Noah said.

Through his time at the foundation he has learnt more about himself. He told me that he doesn’t take himself so seriously and it is okay to speak your mind if you believe in something.

He is continuing to transform himself into someone who doesn’t feel threatened to speak up and is more able to make friends without his anxiety affecting him.

Noah still struggles with social anxiety but says he has improved dramatically since he first started with the foundation.

Qyanna Curry is a year 13 at Hornby High.

She battled with social anxiety which also led to low self-esteem. She felt that through school, the people she hung around with weren’t positive on her mental well-being.

Qyanna fell into a trap of trying to conform to a certain group of people which restricted her self-expression.

She felt isolated and doubted herself which became unhealthy for her mentally.  She was vulnerable and often got caught up in her own feelings.

That anxiety didn’t give her much confidence, every day she became paranoid of what people thought of her. She was often scared of failure which led her to not taking on things she usually would which made her shy away, so she never had to feel a sense of failure.

As I asked her if the foundation helped her, her smile and body language changed, she cut me off before I could finish the question and said with a massive grin on her face, “most definitely.”

The foundation's impact on Qyana was immense. They taught her to be the best person version of herself and failure is a part of life, it’s the person you become and how you deal with adversity sets you up to be an even stronger person.

Ivan Malpaya is from the Philippines and describes his life there as difficult. He says living in the Philippines was distracting, but when he moved to New Zealand things didn’t get easier.

He struggled in school and was socially awkward. It wasn’t until he got a letter inviting him to the foundation that he took a turn for the better.

“I don’t regret going to the foundation, because it actually changed all my life,” Ivan said.

He said that invitation really helped him cut the distractions out and focus on himself and what was best for him.

Ivan plans on leaving Hornby High to pursue a career in the mechanical industry.  

These are just some of the few students this foundation helps, and they all believe the foundation is an important part of our society, guiding the next generation of kids on a healthy pathway to success.

Ivan, Qyanna and Noah are all examples of students who have faced hardship in their lives but are overcoming that thanks to the foundation. While they still continue to battle their inconsistencies, they all say the foundation has helped turned their lives around.  

The work the Graham Dingle foundation did, was they alleviated the pressures of social anxiety, post-traumatic stress and self-esteem issues to assist these children into seeing who they really are - while putting them on a road to success.

The Graham Dingle Foundation is an inclusive foundation that helps underachieving and unmotivated children to succeed.