Funding boost for YMCA courses

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by Greta Yeoman

A YMCA programme teaching resilience to South Canterbury young people is secure.

The Mid and South Canterbury YMCA received a $50,000 grant last month from the Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury to continue its Resiliency Toolkit work in South Canterbury schools.

The toolkit provides sessions in schools which teach young people about stress management, decision-making on alcohol and drugs, healthy relationships, cybersafety and peer mentoring, communications manager Michele Keggenhoff said.

The grant would be used for the 2019 toolkit programmes, following on from the community trust’s grant of $150,000 in 2016 for the first three years of the youth resiliency programme.

“[The trust] has been a big supporter of the Resiliency Toolkit from day one.”

Ms Keggenhoff said the Timaru organisation was working in 10 of the 11 high schools around South Canterbury and Ashburton.

She believed the community was backing the project because people were realising the “knock-on effect” a resilient community of young people could have for the wider area.

“[It is] not just about now but also into the future.”
The YMCA’s work with youth sat alongside the organisation’s Level Up programme, launched last year, Ms Keggenhoff said.

Level Up education tutor Kataraina Wilcox said the programme was run in businesses and organisations around South Canterbury as a way of “upskilling” workers.

Despite the belief of many in the community the YMCA focused solely on youth development, this scheme indicated the organisation’s wider purpose, she said.

“[We] always like to meet the needs of the community.”

Training topics include study skills, developing communication skills, supporting people to transition into management roles and learning about health and safety.

A recent boost in funding hours by the national YMCA body meant the Timaru branch could double its hours in workplaces, from 600 hours a year to 1200.

Mrs Wilcox said the training benefited both employees and employers.

She had worked in about six businesses and organisations last year and the boost in hours would enable the scheme to be run in more workplaces around the region.

While most of her work was in group settings, she did occasionally work with individual staff members.

Both employers and employees could contact the YMCA if they were interested in the Level Up programme, she said.

The scheme, launched last year, was started after government research found more than half of the adult workforce in New Zealand were below the recommended literacy and numeracy levels for adults, Mrs Wilcox said.

Funding for the scheme had come from the Tertiary Education Commission.

She said the South and Mid Canterbury branch was one of three YMCAs around the country offering the programme.

For more information on the YMCA’s programmes, visit www.ymcasc.org.nz.