YMCA National News

YMCA opening a whanau-friendly childhood centre in Papakura

November 25, 2011

Christine Walter, YMCA Executive Director of Recreation, places YMCA’s exciting initiative within the wider spectrum of community-based Early Childhood Education (ECE) that YMCA provides throughout Auckland.

“The Ministry of Education has been focusing on developing areas with low participation in Early Childhood services,” says Christine. “The Ministry has built first-rate Early Learning Centres throughout these developing areas, and has tendered the facilities to community organisations. We felt that YMCA Auckland, committed to community engagement and Early Childhood investment, would be an ideal partner in seeking to create a brighter future for Papakura’s children.”

With a strong track-record in early learning, YMCA Auckland won the Ministry’s tender to develop a centre in Papakura. The elegant and purpose-built centre is located at the Mansell Senior School and intends to cater for 50 young children around the community.

“YMCA has put in considerable investment – to the tune of over $100,000 – to grow the centre into a world-class facility, yet with a friendly neighbourhood intimacy,” says Christine.

The Papakura centre is part of YMCA’s wider early childhood education initiatives across Auckland. “Three active Early Childhood centres have already been established around Auckland, with another one in the works,” notes Christine. “Currently we have around 170 children who participate in our programmes throughout Auckland.”

Christine comments on the holistic approach YMCA take in addressing the needs of the community’s children. “We collaborate with parents, caregivers and family/whanau to understand each child and the community in general. Our centres are a focal point for bringing together members of the community from different ethnic, linguistic and social-cultural backgrounds. The Papakura centre is a case-in-point of how we want to celebrate diversity to its full extent. This approach is what makes our centres so special and community-oriented.”

“YMCA is committed to proactive community development,” says Peter Fergusson, CEO of YMCA Auckland. “The Papakura community, which faces numerous challenges, has traditionally been over-looked and under-engaged in terms of participation. Yet it is an area brimming with potential. YMCA’s new Early Learning Centre in Papakura will be driven to provide quality education in a warm, family-friendly environment. Our vibrant centre is intended to harness the community’s potential and be a stimulus for wider development, active engagement, and a sense of belonging for everyone within this bustling centre.”

YMCA is particularly interested in strengthening its engagement with the cultural aspect of local communities. “We have specifically been approaching Maori and Pacifica members of the Papakura community, inviting them to join us in this exciting and enlivening partnership,” notes Christine.

“We want a centre that reflects the values of the local area,” says Christine. “We want a centre where people feel welcomed. Most importantly, we want a centre where the community can feel a sense of belonging. YMCA’s Papakura Early Learning Centre ticks all of those boxes. We will work closely with the local marae, and community networks in order to design the centre as a buzzing hub that embraces the community’s local heritage and culture and will reflect this in our centre.

Christine articulates YMCA’s passion for early childhood education. “We are an organisation that is here for everyone, no matter what age. Each and every member of our community needs to be looked after and engaged with. We strongly believe that Early Childhood is the first stepping stone in creating a lifelong belonging to a local community centre, imbued with feelings of unity, community spirit, and dedication to creating warmth and vibrancy for the next generation.”

About YMCA Auckland

Established in 1855 YMCA Auckland is one of the oldest organisations in the country. Its mission is to lead the way as the most respected provider of services for people to reach their full potential in body, mind and spirit and the vision is to build strong kids, strong families and communities.

The YMCA Auckland owns/operates nine fitness clubs, delivers youth programmes at seven sitesacross Auckland with over 4,000 attendances each month, has more stadiums than anyone else (eight), has three camps, a 130 bed hostel and a 100 room hotel. It also has two swim schools, three early childhood education facilities and is the largest provider of OSCAR programmes in New Zealand.

YMCA facilities are located in the CBD in Auckland – Grey Ave, Pitt Street, (hostel) and Vincent Street (City Lodge). Ellerslie (fitness and recreation), Glendowie (Swim School), Hamilton (fitness and recreation), Hunau (Camp Adair), Massey, Mt Albert (fitness and recreation), North Shore (fitness and recreation), Onehunga (fitness and recreation) , Panmure (aquatics and fitness), Panmure (stadium), Shakespeare (camp), Waiwera (camp).

For more information see http://www.ymcaauckland.org.nz/

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