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Standing Tall expansion

GROWING up is part of life, but for some children the experience fails to reach its potential in many ways.

Standing Tall is a Hamilton-based school mentoring program that began about 15 years ago at Baimbridge College to address that potential and this year is substantially expanding its scope to other schools.

Robert Vecchiet was principal there when one of his staff, Jeanette Pritchard, started the program when she saw the need for children to have a trusted adult in their lives.

“Basically the whole school community supported the idea,” he said.

“In those early days, Geoff and Helen Handbury were great supporters of the program when it first got going.”

That support continues despite the passing of Geoff in late 2019 through the Geoff and Helen Handbury Foundation with his daughter and son-in-law, Judith and Rowly Paterson.

The Hamilton organisation has hired two new staff, manager Emma Brian and coordinator, Michelle Winnell and has considerably advanced in terms of getting other schools on board.

While Mr Vecchiet was thrilled with the way Standing Tall had made great strides with students at Baimbridge College, he knew the need would be there at other schools.

“We actually went and met with the principals of all schools last year who thought it would be a good idea to be involved,” he said.

“For years and years we suffered because everyone thought it was a Baimbridge College program and funded by the government, so now that I've retired, we've moved away from the school … we’re going to base ourselves in town.

“They all want to be able to access the program so that if they have a child that needs a bit of support, we have mentors that are trained that can be paired up with these kids, so that they get a bit of extra support in their life.”

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