What can you learn from sore muscles, rain, big hills – and lashings of community support

I was blown away by a post (included in full below) by
Marg McPherson, that recounted the efforts of 3 young men who cycled from Timaru to Invercargill in NZ, and whose support crew were 2 dedicated friends. Their efforts were all to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.

It struck me that it is one thing to have an idea, and quite another, as Marg says, to plan for and execute such a mammoth undertaking. And they have
finished successfully. I’ve browsed through some of the posts that were on the
donation and support site. It sounds as though determination in the face of tiredness, unpleasant weather, and sore muscles (big distances over tough terrain) was in part mitigated by that amazing community support. Marg comments that “They will remember this experience and the things they have learnt from it about themselves and what they are capable of, for the rest of their lives. (unlike last week’s English lesson which has probably already been consigned to the “trash bin’ of their memories!)”.

The post below was originally entitled
In praise of young men, and was written by
Marg McPherson, who posted it on May 11th 2012.

This week I have been taught a powerful lesson – a lesson in commitment, endurance and citizenship – by 5 young men who I am proud to call students of the school I work in and proud to know personally as friends of my son (one of the 5). 3 of them, Matt Jopson, Joe Langley and Ben Connor (all 17 years old) decided about 8 weeks ago to plan and train for a bike ride from Ashburton to Invercargill to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of NZ. They asked my son, Andrew Robertson, and another friend, James Smith (both 18) to be their support crew and the drivers of the lead and trail pilot vehicles. The boys set about planning this venture with purpose and clarity of vision. They sought and acted on advice from experts: cyclists who’d done this sort of thing before, LTSA, adults who had driven pilot vehicles for cyclists before, and people who knew about the training and nutritional requirements to support their plan. They set up an online donation page, they talked to newspapers and radio stations and, first and foremost they talked to the Prostate Foundation to pitch their idea and see if this organisation was ok with being the beneficiary of their efforts. Needless to say, the Prostate Foundation is thrilled – young men doing something selfless for others; mainly older men you could say.

Prostate Cancer FoundationProstate Cancer Foundation (Photo credit:

The boys planned the timimg carefully. they worked out the time they’d need to prepare and still be able to beat the upcoming southern winter and leve themselves time to prepare for their internal school examinations. They couldn’t wait ’til spring – they have NCEA Level 3 to achieve and holiday jobs to raise money for their university plans. And, young men being young men, they had a compelling imperative to get on with it while their enthusiasm and motivation to succeed was immediate and therefore extremely high.

Schools along the way given them lunch – more than happy to welcome and support role models such as these. Businesses have generously offered them sponsorship through provision of equipmens, nutritional supplements and even replacement tyres after two punctures north of Oamaru on the 2nd day! Family members along journey have provided them with beds and food. this has truly become a community project.

Their parents have shown them the immense respect of letting them be in charge of this venture; supporting them and advising them when necessary, but allowing them to take complete ownership of their great adventure. In this age of “blackhawk” parenting and micromanaging by parents and schools of the daily lives of young people, I also stand in admiration of these parents for stepping back to let their sons step up.

Today, day 4, the cyclists have had to grind it out; tired and extremely sore, over the rolling hills from Dunedin to Gore. Tomorrow they ride to Invercargill to be met by the Mayor and, hopefully, a whole new group of generous donors whose support for the Prostate Foundation is all the reward these boys are looking for.

Young men working together and in support of each other in order to help others – it doesn’t get any better than this. They will remember this experience and the things they have learnt from it about themselves and what they are capable of, for the rest of their lives. (unlike last week’s English lesson which has probably already been consigned to the “trash bin’ of their memories!)


This week I, and others, have been given a powerful lesson in managing self, participating and contributing, thinking and relating to others; a powerful lesson in community, integrity and respect.

Please consider sharing this story among your networks and supporting Matt, Joe Ben and their support team, by donating to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand on


This week I have been given a powerful lesson…

About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ (http://www.ethosconsultancynz.com/). I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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