Ground-breaking . . . Stacey Scott and Josh Rooney are breaking new ground as the first chairwoman and youngest deputy chairman of YMCA South & Mid Canterbury. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Claire Allison

The newly appointed chairwoman and deputy chairman of YMCA South & Mid Canterbury are both breaking new ground.

Stacey Scott is the first woman to be appointed to the top position and, at 26, Josh Rooney is the youngest deputy in the organisation’s history, after being elected to the board last year.

In another first, Felicity McMillan is a newcomer to the board; with direct links to Te Runanga o Arowhenua she is the YMCA’s first Mana Whenua board member representative.

A board member since 2013, Barrie Suter has held the chairman’s role for the past five years, and although stepping down,he will remain on the board.

Mrs Scott has been on the board for five years, and says she is looking forward to her new role.

“I look forward to continuing to uphold our vision and values of building strong kids, strong families and in turn building a strong community.”

The new appointments reflected the organisation’s focus on dealing with the community in a positive and diverse way, Mrs Scott said.

As well as aiming to give youth a second chance in education, the YMCA was continuing to expand its efforts to engage with the wider community to help provide people with the tools needed to succeed in life.

An example of that was the Y*Drive driving school, which had been giving people from all walks of life the chance to get their driver licence.

“These have created an avenue for the YMCA to not only build strong kids, but also bring an increased focus to building strong communities by empowering people from families to learn how to drive when they have been unable to for one reason or another in the past.”

Another area of growth was in youth and community development, Mrs Scott said.

The YMCA was now delivering free community play, active recreation and sport pop-ups in Timaru, Ashburton, Temuka and Waimate.

Y*Active, which helped young women stay fit and active, ACC Mates and Dates in schools, multiple Rainbow support groups in the community, delivering the “Negotiating the Minefield” parenting programme, and the Resiliency Toolkit which was a personal development programme which provided young people with the tools to adapt to situations life throws at them.

“The health and wellbeing of our young people is extremely important to me.

“The Y plays a vital role in the space of positive youth development, and providing pathways for our young to becoming resilient, respectful and responsible members of our community.”

Last year, more than 6000 people engaged with the YMCA through the delivery of programmes within schools, the community, and its education and training centres.

“It is safe to say that the YMCA is gaining a relevant and responsive presence in the community. It is looking beyond the stereotype. It sometimes can be seen as a second-chance education provider and exploring avenues to bring positive change to the whole community.”