Two smorgasbord treats this week – the usual Howick Club meal and the line-up of speakers that followed.
First course were the two students from Pakuranga College who had attended the Science and technology Forum held over the summer break in mid January. 
Lucy and Luchien made a dual presentation with the help of mercifully succinct power point detail and a few photos, extolling the programme and revealing its impact on their thinking about the future. Three universities – Auckland, Massey and AUT provided the basic modules of science-based career options while guest speakers, Dr. Malvinder Singh (Kiwibank Local Hero medallist) and Dr. Michelle Dickinson (Nanogirl) added their expertise and enthusiasm to the mix.
The modules comprised Biomedical, Robotics and Physics with sample experiments, hands on involvement and mind-blowing possibilities.  For Lucy, the Biomedical field captured her interest to the point where she feels a strong motivation to pursue related subjects in her future planning. For Luchien eyes were opened into what Physics could offer outside the basic school curriculum – perhaps even astrophysics. Visits to technical operations e.g. Environmental Science Research exposed participants to the ‘CSI’ world of forensics, drug detection and DNA analysis, all giving fascinating new insights into science-based career options. Clearly the whole purpose of the Forum hit its mark with these two participants.
Of course it’s not all hard graft – the social programme of Day Out, beach visit, disco, quiz night and sport provided opportunities to widen social contacts with like-minded peers as well as push the comfort boundaries and try new experiences.  For Lucy, the availability of scholarships in the science field, especially for female applicants, was a revelation while both spoke of their increased confidence in social settings e.g. volunteer work and the boost in motivation to set achievable goals.
Philip Tse, who had introduced Lucy and Luchien, was moved to comment that their presentation was the best ever!  The audience would be inclined to agree.
Second course, equally appetising, was a presentation by Lincoln Jefferson, CEO of the Life Education Trust (Manukau) outlining the work of this charity
with which our Rotary Club has had direct involvement for yonks. In fact President Alison’s personal connection has reached the 20 year milestone and mike Collins, 16 years.  Both are to be given formal recognition for this commitment.
Lincoln gave details of how the Trust worked with committed teachers in participating schools, starting a year in advance of the visit by the mobile classroom and targeting the specific health or social issues pertinent to each school. The unit could spend from two to eight weeks in a school depending on size, focussing on strategies for children to cope with daily living in an increasingly complex world. The Covid situation is just one of the pressures leading to anxieties and evidence of greatly increased depression among young people (23% of under 18 year olds in a recent survey, with 20% being sad or stressed). The effects of binge drinking, vaping and tobacco use are all covered by modules delivered by the trust.
In a non-Covid year, up to 28,000 young people are impacted by the programmes but 2020 saw this number drop by 10,000 so some catch-up is needed.
Fund-raising is obviously a constant need for this organisation. It costs $26.92 to serve one child with the programme, primary schools contributing $6 and secondary $8 per child. Quite a gap! Check the website for ways to assist but mark Sunday 17 October in calendars when our club’s assistance in selling raffle tickets at the Great Auckland Duck Race event would be welcomed.
In the meantime – Go Harold!