Explorer Journeys: Leo Adekunle

Young Inspiring Explorers™ Summit 2019

“I love the physical and mental challenge of achieving goals, and going outside my comfort zone into new territory.”

Meeting inspirational Kiwi explorers inspired intermediate school student, Leo Adekunle, to learn more about being an explorer and to see himself in a more positive light.

In 2019, Leo Adekunle, from Kōwhai Intermediate School in Auckland, was one of 20 young explorers from diverse communities across New Zealand to take part in the inaugural Young Inspiring Explorers™ Summit.

The Summit was a great opportunity for the students to learn more about the history of Antarctica, its wildlife, science and importance to the world today.

Some of the immersive activities Leo enjoyed during the action-packed Summit included getting up close with penguins at the International Antarctic Centre, riding in a Hagglund, camping overnight, tackling an obstacle course in the dark, working with friendly huskies, experiencing Antarctic virtual reality and learning about the legacies of the historic Antarctic explorers.

One outcome he wasn’t expecting was to form a bond with Brando Yelavich, an alumnus of the Inspiring Explorers™ programme.

Like Brando, Leo has ADHD, and is dyslexic, which makes learning a challenge. One of the most inspiring moments of the Summit for Leo was watching the Trust’s short film In Nansen’s Footsteps about the Greenland Ice Cap crossing, which included footage of Brando embracing his own ADHD and not letting it hold him back from experiencing life to the full.

Francine Werry (Leo’s mum), said Leo returned home after the Summit with a new found sense of self-confidence. “Leo has had many difficult issues to deal with as a result of ADHD and dyslexia. It was inspiring for him to see someone like Brando doing such adventurous things as part of embracing his own ADHD. This helped Leo to see this neurological condition as a difference, rather than a disability. He also gained a sense of belonging within the group at the Summit, and was inspired to learn more about being an explorer.”

Brando was so moved by this feedback, that he arranged to meet Leo in person.

These links highlight the power of the Trust’s alumni programme, with many of the Inspiring Explorers aged 18-30 who have been supported by the Trust on numerous expeditions, going on to encourage and inspire an even younger generation of future explorers.