Twenty-six young people in the Western Bay gained emergency services skills as part of Youth in Emergency Services (YES) programmes this year.
Maketu and Katikati are among 10 communities across New Zealand to gain funding from the Ministry of Youth and Development to run the YES programmes this year. Eleven students, aged between 16 and 19, have graduated in Maketu and 15 in Katikati.
The $20,000 funding was gained through an application by Western Bay of Plenty District Council to the Ministry. The programme aims to connect young people to their community through encouraging hands-on participation with a range of community-based volunteer emergency services.
This is the second round of YES funding sought by Council from the Ministry. The first was in 2015 when Katikati and Maketu were chosen for pilot projects.
Community Relations Advisor Ben Wilson says the success of the pilot led to a repeat of funding this year.
"These programmes have been strongly community led,'' says Ben. "While Council gives expertise and support, it is important for the communities themselves to take the lead and give the programmes colour, shape and texture.
"Both programmes have been a huge success with almost all students staying the course. Now, wherever they go in life, these young people take these skills and our communities will benefit from their experience and capabilities.''
The success of YES is due to the commitment of the programme coordinators – Clester Eru in Maketu and Diana Donker in Katikati – and to the emergency service personnel in both communities who give their time and expertise to train the local youth, says Ben.
Clester says the programme is one worth continuing for the benefits it brings the community, youth and emergency services. She has seen the young people grow in confidence, skills, knowledge and get an appreciation of the rewards of voluntary work.
"YES is a fun programme and a fabulous opportunity for young people to make connections with their community," says Diana.
YES is run every two years and Council aims to apply for funding again in 2019, if there is strong interest from the community. Students gain experience with a range of emergency services - St John, NZ Police, Coastguard, Fire Service, Civil Defence, Red Cross and Search and Rescue, and Emergency Management Bay of Plenty.
Yes Saint John trainees. Photo: Supplied.