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Growing great leaders

Two of our team got a huge learning opportunity and career boost when YMCA HB joined forces with Directions Youth Health Centre to give youth they work with daily outdoor experiences around the region over the summer holidays.

Shannon Singer and Zach Furniss are EIT social work students and, as OSCAR Assistants, work on our holiday programmes and in after-school care when they can around their studies.

When Olivia Pierce, our newly appointed Youth Development Manager, asked them to join her and others from Directions to deliver two week-long programmes, they jumped at the chance. As well as having a blast with the youth participants, they so impressed the Directions team they’ve gained placements there to support their degree study.

The free programmes were funded by Ministry of Education through its Breakaway contract. The first week was for 10 to 14 year olds, and the second for 15 to 18 year olds. All are clients of Directions, which is a health, social and wellbeing centre for Hawke’s Bay youth aged 10 to 24 years.

Over the fortnight, 24 youth visited Lake Tutira, Waitangi Point, Shine Falls, Ocean Beach and Splash Planet. For many, these were places they hadn’t been to before.

“Each day focused on one of the five ways of wellbeing – Connections, Give, Take notice, Keep learning, and Be active. It was so cool to see the young people embracing what was on offer – learning to boogie board, learning about rips, appreciating nature and generally giving everything a go,” says Olivia.

The groups also put on free sausage sizzles – one on Marine Parade and another in a Flaxmere playground.

“It was fantastic for them to give back to others and feel the satisfaction of doing that.”