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 foundation, 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, over 25 years later Tauranga Cool Bananas is in 13 schools with 20 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. 2015 saw the launch of Blello.tv, an online digital classroom full of 'valuetainment' for kids.
Currently a staff of 10 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 five years of experience doing all of the above!
Kyle joined the team July 2014 with a passion to inspire children through any creative expression. With over 12 years leadership experience in non-profit organisations Kyle brings a forward thinking, strategic dynamic to the team that will help Cool Bananas to grow and continue to connect with children around the world in a modern age.
Stu, married to Jess Paterson, joined the Cool Bananas Team in March 2014. He knew from when he was a child that he wanted to work with children. So from the age of 19 that is what he has done. Now in his early 30’s Stu’s journey with children has taken many different forms including Early Childhood, interning in U.S.A, holiday programmes and leading various Children’s Programmes for Churches and other groups. For the past few years Stu has found his home at Cool Bananas, living the dream working for an organisation that aligns with his personal views and values. Stu is a self confessed sports geek and loves cooking for guests on his BBQ.
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.
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!
Sarah Bailey, wife to Dave and mum to Logan and Jordan (both teenagers) has been part of the Cool Bananas team since 2014. Whether it’s been as a mother, teacher, Cool Bananas presenter or children’s leader Sarah has worked with/for children for the last 20 years. She has a passion for seeing kids inspired and nurtured into great older people. As well as enjoying telling a good story and sharing a good laugh, Sarah is very much the home body who loves drinking tea, talking with friends, playing ps4 and watching movies with her boys.
Luke officially started with Cool Bananas at the beginning of 2019, but has been involved with Cool Bananas for 9 years in a leading and filming capacity. Luke joins us as a videographer and editor. He has a passion for filmmaking, and telling jokes so unbelievably corny, you’ll be amaized…
Anna, married to Kyle Keogh, came to Cool Bananas in February 2013. She left for a season in 2016 in which she pursued the health and fitness industry. In 2018 Kyle and Anna had their daughter Tasia, and in 2019 Anna rejoined the team as the Creative and Communications director. As well as enjoying the creative process, writing lists and organising things, Anna also loves going to the gym and encouraging others to be their best version of themselves through healthy pursuits.
Lydia left small-town Dargaville to join the Cool Bananas team in 2018 as an intern, alongside studying with Pathways Bible College. She loves working with kids and inspiring them to be the best version of themselves so it was pretty much a no-brainer that she decided to intern again in 2019. After graduating, In 2020 Lydia joined the staff as a part of the schools team. Lydia aspires to work with kids in the future as a police officer. In her spare time she loves watching rugby and spending time with mates in the great outdoors.