PREPARATIONS have started for this year's Moonee Valley Kokoda Program, with Mount Alexander College and St Bernard's students again joining members of Victoria Police to take on the 96-kilometre Kokoda Track.
The Kokoda program was developed to break down barriers between police and the youth in Moonee Valley's south but has evolved to also now be a program that fosters young leaders and allows students from different backgrounds to bond.
Moonee Valley Council bolstered its support of the Kokoda program in 2010 and part of its commitment was endorsing a council representative to take on the track and provide a mentoring role for the participating students.
For tthis year's challenge, Myrnong ward's James Rankin has been selected.
As the youngest councillor, Cr Rankin said joining the program directly was a great way to live up to his promise of being a councillor in touch with Moonee Valley's youth.
Cr Rankin said he looked forward to training hard with the police and students preparing to take on the track.
He said a self-enforced 'health kick' has his fitness "on the way".
"Since late last year I've given up smoking and am down to one coffee a day.
''Combining that with the training program I hope to get in good shape.
"As well as training with the group I'll do some of my own work as well, so I'm happy to take tips."
This year's Kokoda trip leaves on June 29.
Once again, the Weekly will follow the Moonee Valley Kokoda journey from its earliest preparations to conclusion.