Kevin Hulls: Top Blokes Foundation
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled Top Blokes Foundation to provide primary schools access to their Stepping Up Program. An 8-week mentoring program for boys in years 5 and 6, was delivered to Gosford and Toukley primary schools. Commencing in April 2019 the program will be delivered to Tuggerah Primary School with plans to deliver the program to a fourth school later this year.
The Step Up program has provided signification improvement in social behaviour and personal wellbeing in all participants. An increase in participants seeking help from friends, family and mental health professions has been recognised. There has been a decrease to risk taking and peer pressure, providing them the confidence to say “no” to dangerous situations.
After being a volunteer footy coach on NSW’s Woy Woy peninsula for 15 years, former motor industry worker Kevin Hulls was at a crossroads. Based on how much he had enjoyed working with kids over the years, Kevin decided to become a youth worker and joined the Top Blokes Foundation as a mentor.
Since then, he has notched up thousands of mentoring hours helping boys and men aged 10-24 years who experience family breakdown, school or work issues, socio-economic challenges or mental health issues.
They attend six months of workshops at which Kevin and others offer a safe space to open up and discuss the struggles they face while learning how to build the skills for conflict resolution, help-seeking and critical thinking.
“I’m using my life experience to communicate with young people during what can be an uneasy or unsettled period of their life,” Kevin says.
Stepping Up aims to address many of the emerging social issues for boys and helps them develop decision-making skills.
There are 11 workshop variations available and Kevin works with each school to decide the topics that will be delivered over the eight-week program, including issues such as healthy relationships, drugs and alcohol, anger management and transitioning to high school.
Kevin is proud of the program but humble about being voted a Westfield Local Hero.
“Being a hero doesn’t sit well with me,” he says. “But certainly, the program is a hero.”