The seed of an idea…

Co-founders Andrew Stainer and John Naylor met on a sailing yacht in early 2010. As they started talking and learning about each other, they realised they had something in common: a very strong belief that young people should be able to flourish regardless of their socio-economic and cultural background. As their conversation pursued off the boat, they started planting the seed of an idea: how powerful could coaching and adventure education be, when combined, to bring about lasting, positive changes in the lives of adolescents?

Early research and concept validation…

At the start of 2011, the two started reviewing extensive research in the fields of coaching psychology and adventure education and concluded that the idea seemed to have legs. They formulated a (rather optimistic!) plan to launch a program, which became known as The Helmsman Project. Funding was to be procured and the first program was to be delivered by the end of 2011.

Reality hits…

By the middle of 2011, conversations with charities and corporate funders all seemed to validate the program concept. But it had become clear that a research program needed to be put in place to evidence the expected outcomes of the project.

The first breakthrough…

In October 2011, the pair’s first major breakthrough occurred. Distinguished Professor Herb Marsh, the world’s leading educational psychologist and professor at both Oxford University and ACU joined the other academics and practitioners who had become involved in the development of the program. This marked the start of the development of the research program that would become integral to the validation of The Helmsman Project.

The second breakthrough…

By the end of 2012, The Helmsman Project put in place the steps needed to incorporate, become a registered Public Benevolent Institution (PBI) and apply for Deductible Gift Recipient Status (DGR). With the valuable and enthusiastic support of over 20 clinical and educational psychologists, schools, corporates and other charities, The Helmsman Project achieved these aims in January 2013 and, as a result, established a proper foundation from which to begin changing young people’s lives for the better.

The launch…

In June 2013, the Department of Human Services awarded The Helmsman Project a grant of $240,000 to fund participation of three schools from the Bankstown area in a pilot program. Further corporate funding followed suit and with that, The Helmsman Project set off on the important and fun adventure of making a difference in the lives of young people, their schools and their communities.

The Helmsman Project today…

Since the program’s launch, The Helmsman Project has graduated more than a hundred young participants and has grown into a thriving organisation supported by close to 80 volunteers. We now partner with multiple high schools in the Western Sydney area and have aspirations for many more (see our three-year strategy here). For more information on our program, visit our program page.