KOKODA Youth foundation
Kokoda Youth Foundation is a registered charity (Public Benevolent Institution) founded by Vietnam veteran Doug Henderson OAM. On the forefront of veteran’s issues for more than ten years, he was inspired to start the foundation in July 2004 after listening to a guest speaker at an RSL conference talk about the Battle of the Kokoda Track and the Pacific Campaign.
Compelled by the story, Doug believed that the key to keeping the Spirit of Kokoda alive was to incorporate Kokoda values into life-changing experiences for young Australians. Teaming up with a handful of members from the Gold Coast Bushwalking Club, KYF hosted their first cross-country fundraising event to sponsor twelve 'Kokoda Kids' to walk the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in 2005.
Kokoda Youth Foundation has now grown from a single youth program and event (Kokoda Challenge Youth Program and The Kokoda Challenge) to a range of youth programs, events and camps around Australia, influencing the lives of thousands of young people every year.
In 2012, KYF welcomed Keith Payne VC OAM as patron. Keith was awarded the Victoria Cross for his service during the Vietnam War and has dedicated years of service to supporting the veteran community and the general community. Keith is strongly involved in promoting and raising awareness of Kokoda Youth Foundation, in particular the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program. To read further information about Keith's biography please click here.
In March 2014, KYF celebrated their tenth anniversary with a change of name from Kokoda Challenge Association to Kokoda Youth Foundation. "The new name communicates our focus on supporting young Australians and providing opportunities to learn skills and qualities that matter in life," says Henderson.
“Kokoda teaches many things that are important - discipline, structure and boundaries. I always say to our Kokoda Kids that there are two guiding factors critical to life: work hard and make smart choices.”
KYF recognises that the world is laden with risks that can affect children’s and teens’ ability to achieve full health now and in the future, reducing their opportunities for education and occupation, and leading to isolation, frustrated ambition and potential, and disappointment.
We support young Australians, delivering key programs, courses and opportunities to youth from all social backgrounds and targeting many different needs. Each year, Kokoda Youth Foundation helps many 12 to 17 year olds in these programs, and has a lasting impact on their families, schools and communities.
YOUTH AMBASSADOR – DUNCAN ARMSTRONG OAM
Olympian Duncan Armstrong has been youth ambassador for Kokoda Youth foundation since the early days. Radio and television presenter, newspaper columnist and public speaker, Duncan has dedicated his life to sport and motivational work, winning a host of honours including Young Australian of the Year, a Centenary Medal and the Order of Australia Medal.
Duncan recalls the motivation he received during his drive to be an Olympic swimming champion: “I was introduced to some unbelievable success stories that really changed my life, and made me believe I could achieve anything.” He became a household name at 20 years of age after winning the 200 metres freestyle event at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the 100th Olympic swimming medal. Now his own inspiring stories motivate the youth touched by Kokoda Youth Foundation programs and events.
OUR vision AND MISSION
TO CHANGE LIVES THROUGH THE SPIRIT OF KOKODA
Courage: We support and encourage our people to stay the course even when times are tough
Endurance: We believe that tests of endurance are a way to promote personal growth
Mateship: We believe in the value of teamwork and of providing support for each other
Sacrifice: We are an organisation that is built on the sacrifice of volunteers and the community spirit this inspires
Environment: We value the natural environment and aim for all our activities to have a minimal environmental impact
Youth: We believe in the potential of our youth to create a positive future
Health: We support and develop the physical, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing of our people.