When participants step off the start line at the OKE Head2Head Walk in November, the moment will mark a major milestone for OKE Charity.
It will be five years since the charity’s first event - a 24-hour, 125km walk, which sees teams winding their way around the Manukau Harbour.
The annual day-to-night team relay has become increasingly popular because the unique course offers participants the chance to experience a different kind of Auckland, walking from Manukau Heads to Huia.
Working in teams of five, each participant tackles a 25km leg taking in a wild harbour adventure that travels from the scenic, rural roads of Awhitu Peninsula to the raw, rugged bush-clad Waitakere Ranges.
Developed by OKE founder Paul Dickson, money raised from the OKE Head2Head Walk is used for OKE’s Growing A Future program, which helps Auckland kids develop life and social skills through the use of fruit and vegetable gardens.
“The Manukau Harbour is on our back doorstep. I wanted to create an event that would engage local communities around the harbour, raise money for school gardens and bring awareness to the beautiful scenery of this area,” explains Mr Dickson.
Registrations are now open for the 2017 OKE Head2Head Walk. The goal of this year’s event to raise a total of $40,000. With each garden costing $10,000 to build, the funds will be enough to implement the Growing A Future program into four local primary schools.
“We wanted to create a movement where we could bring elderly and kids together,” says Mr Dickson. “Anj (Paul’s wife and OKE’s co-founder) works on the frontline as a nurse and we realised gardening was a way to connect children to a knowledge base and provide a purpose for elderly in our community.”
In 2015, OKE built their first garden at local primary school Papatoetoe East. The walk has now supported the construction of gardens throughout schools in Otara, Manurewa, and Weymouth.
The next garden will be built by the OKE Squad and their local volunteers on October 21 at Manurewa Central Primary School.
OKE Charity has discovered there are many benefits in helping primary school kids learn to garden. Not only does it create independence and confidence but it also positively influences the wider community.
Explains Mr Dickson: “Gardens are being used to not only help teach kids how to grow veggies but also to show them financial literacy and open up their eyes to the power of the community model.”
About OKE Head2Head Walk:
The OKE Head2Head Walk takes place on November 11 - 12, 2017. Teams of five raise $1500 through sponsorship and each member walks one 25km leg each. The first walkers leave at 8am on November 11 from Orua Bay Holiday Park and the last walkers arrive at 10am on November 12 in Huia.
The money raised from this year’s event will be invested into four primary school garden projects in South Auckland. The OKE Head2Head Walk is the charity’s annual diamond fundraiser and was launched in 2012.
About OKE Charity:
Focused on enabling change through action, OKE Charity is committed to growing mighty kids. Its name OKE comes from the Maori word for oak tree. The charity funds and builds fruit and vegetable gardens in local Auckland primary schools as a way of creating healthy, connected communities and inter-generational relationships between children and the elderly. OKE Charity is 100% local - gardens are built, created and maintained by the OKE Squad, local suppliers and the school’s community.
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