Volunteering with children A.O.K.

Flynn Jenkins sinks plants into the soil beside the Waikato River Trail with other Act of Kindness volunteers on July 20.


Signing my family up for new things can be scary.

Understandably, my three boys (all aged under 10) are sometimes reluctant to try stuff that will push them outside their comfort zones.  And just knowing how much energy it will take for my husband and I to withstand their protests and get everyone out the door is enough to put me off completely.

The extra push I needed to get involved with Act of Kindness came from wanting to support my friend Rebecca Broadbent, who founded this awesome Cambridge organisation two years ago.

Like me, Bex is a mum of three beautiful, boisterous, energetic young sons.  In a world where we’re constantly bombarded by reports of social injustice and a looming environmental crisis, she wanted to find a way her family – and others – could “stand up, do what is right, and be part of the solution”.  So she started A.O.K. to help young people and their families find volunteering opportunities in the Waipa community.

Since then we have been part of four A.O.K. projects, and each one has made me feel like a better parent and a better person.

Our recent experience planting trees with Act of Kindness was a perfect example.  We had a total blast, joining 25 other volunteers to plant more than 1000 native trees, flaxes and grasses beside the Karapiro section of the Waikato River Trail.

This section lies about 20 minutes south of Cambridge, stretching from the Pokaiwhenua Bridge car park on Horahora Rd to Arapuni Village.  Our planting spot was just past the car park, in a grassy reserve that slopes gently down to the Waikato River.  Just being in this gorgeous place, where the trail meanders through lush green farm paddocks, was lovely.

Act of Kindness founder Rebecca Broadbent and her son Jack plant a flax beside the Waikato River Trail.

Bex’s focus with A.O.K. is on sourcing volunteer work children will enjoy and she did a fantastic job coordinating this with Waikato River Trails general manager Glyn Wooller.

Glyn was super friendly and, to our delight, had arranged to have all the holes dug before we arrived.  All we had to do was drop in a fertiliser tablet, remove the plastic from the plants, loosen their roots and fit them snugly into the soil.

I was stoked with the kids’ enthusiasm as they got stuck in, tallying up their plantings and running back and forth to fill their pockets with fertiliser tablets.  They knew children from two other families so had a brilliant time chatting and laughing, but working hard too.

We even got a delicious morning tea and prize giveaway from Lake District Adventures, a business that runs glowworm tours in the area.

As our family drove home we were all on a high.  We’d spent quality time together in the fresh air and sunshine, met new people and done something to help our local community and our planet.

If you’d like to get involved with A.O.K. please visit www.actofkindness.co.nz.

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