Cool Bananas began with a small group of people who had a vision to see the children in the Bay of Plenty excel not only academically but physically and spiritually as well. With that in mind, a young couple named Andy and Wendy Stott, with 5 children of their own and living in Papamoa, began a lunch time program in their local school back in 1994. The program, that included teaching values and life skills from a Christian perspective, quickly became very popular and soon the word got out that these guys had something worth teaching in school time as well.
Over the years the team grew and evolved, always looking at new ways of teaching timeless truths in large group settings. Technology has played an important role in the team being able to present both professionally and visually.
Now 20 years later Tauranga Cool Bananas is in 16 schools with 27 sessions weekly all during school hours. On top of that Cool Bananas has been involved in after school clubs, holiday programs, youth leadership training and camps. Currently a staff of 9 passionate people, of all ages and stages, work in their various roles as presenters, admin, media and fundraising. Together, with many dedicated volunteers and supporters, they make it happen.
Cool Bananas also has a volunteer network team operating in Dargaville at 4 schools. Many other areas have adopted the model and the curriculum but have their own unique names.
Over the years it has been rewarding to work alongside the amazingly dedicated and talented teachers we have in our New Zealand Primary Schools and see most children rise to the challenge of excelling and making good choices for their lives. We see ourselves as also partnering with Parents and the Community to inspire our tamariki to EXCEL.
We look forward to many more years of making a positive difference in our nation and beyond.
To see generations of children excelling physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Cool Bananas passionately reaches all youth inspiring them to embrace excellence and partners with the church to do the same in the community.
Because of our commitment to the above vision:
1. We inspire kids with informed choices for living.
2. We provide good role models.
3. We re-enforce values that form an ethos or culture of a great school and community.
4. We offer youth leadership opportunities and training.
5. We give support to teachers, parents and caregivers.
6. Our program is relevant, contemporary and enjoyable.
7. We know that kids can change and break the cycle, and re-shape the landscape of future generations by their choices now.
We have a proven track record with twenty years of experience doing all of the above!
Grant and Karena are married with 3 adult children and 6 grandchildren. Grant has been working for Cool Bananas since 1998. He started as a presenter in the schools and is now the coordinator of Cool Bananas. Karena spends a lot of her time at Cool Bananas writing the curriculum used making sure that Cool Bananas fits in with the values of each school. Both Grant and Karena love being in the schools presenting, but are also passionate about encouraging others to inspire children to excel in their area.
Ruth is married to Victor Haupt and between them they have 4 children. Ruth has been with us since 2011 as our fantastic, invaluable office administrator. Ruth brings a warm sense of humour to the team as she keeps the office running efficiently.
Stu, married to Jess Paterson, joined the Cool Bananas Team in March 2014. He brings with him over 10 years experience helping out with various childrens programs. Stu loves sport and is passionate about seeing kids reach their full potential.
Kyle, married to Anna Keogh, joined the team July 2014. Since a child Kyle has had a passion for design and creating things. Through his life he has expressed his passion through many different creative forms from dance to video editing. Heading our Blello.tv initiative he brings 8 years professional design and media experience to our Creative Media and Design Co-ordinator role.
Niky joined the Cool Bananas Team in February 2015. She has been working with children, and presenting for 12 years alongside studying drama and dance from a young age. Niky's passion is seeing kids excel in their lives...oh and she LOVES sea creatures!
Tymon, Married to Sandra White, joined the Cool Bananas team in 2015. He has been working with children in different churches and organisations for over 6 years. Tymon has a passion for creating strange and interesting things out of steel, wood, textiles and other things. He has a strange sense of humor, loves telling stories and making kids laugh.
Naomi was a Cool Bananas in 2010 and came back on the team in 2016. She works in the schools as a presenter and helps develop scripts for BlelloTV.
Tim joined our team in 2017 to present in schools and film content for BlelloTV. He was previously interning at LifeZone church creating videos and leading youth; while completing his Diploma in Christian Ministry. He has grown up helping at kids camps and has had years of involvement in youth groups.