Secondary school students across South and Mid Canterbury will get the chance to build their skills in five key ‘life skill’ areas, thanks to a funding boost of $150,000 over three years by the Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury (CTMSC) for the YMCA’s new Resiliency Toolkit.

“The Resiliency Toolkit Programme represents a new focus for YMCA South and Mid Canterbury to working proactively at the top of the cliff with young people. We’re excited and grateful to have this very significant support from the Community Trust, who share our vision to give young people the skills and support they need to successfully navigate an increasingly complex world,” said Christina Cullimore, YMCA Senior Manager – Community Development.

This is the first time the Community Trust has provided multi-year funding for other than a capital project. Community Trust CEO Liz Shea said, “Multi-year funding gives organisations the ability to plan a multi-year project and have some certainty around its sustainability, in the medium term. The Community Trust was keen to see the Resiliency Toolkit Programme in the region’s schools as it addresses many of the issues faced by today’s youth. The Community Trust is open to enquiries from other groups seeking to fund multi-year projects.”

The Resiliency Toolkit Programme also received $10,000 from Trust Aoraki. “This project is to be commended most highly for its thorough preparation and research into the needs of our local young people. The board of Trust Aoraki see fit to support the Resiliency Toolkit due to the potential broad-reaching benefits, and we wish the YMCA team every success with the distribution and management of their programme,” said Trust Aoraki General Manager Irene Emond.

Five programme content areas comprise the Resiliency Toolkit, which will be delivered to students in years 9-13 initially in Timaru District high schools followed by rollouts to Mid Canterbury high schools in 2017 and Waimate and Mackenzie high schools in 2018:

  • Social Media Savvy / Cybersafety / Cyberbullying
  • Stress Management
  • Healthy Relationships / Sex & Respect
  • Alcohol & Drugs: Making Better Decisions to Positively Affect Behaviour
  • Peer Mentoring

Resiliency Toolkit programme content was developed directly in response to feedback from the region’s youth through the 2014 and 2015 Timaru District Youth Surveys and last year’s MAKE THINGS HAPPEN Youth Huis that were conducted as part of the YMCA’s Investing in Youth community development project.

Cullimore explained that a key difference in how the Resiliency Toolkit is delivered is in its emphasis on ‘learning by doing’, rather than just on imparting information, and also in its holistic approach.

“Our youth development facilitators are focussed on giving young people information appropriate to their age, and then taking them through hands on scenarios where they can put that knowledge into practice – and draw on it in their personal lives.

“Also the Resiliency Toolkit is not delivered as separate modules, but instead the five content areas are interwoven because we recognise that one area often affects another. For example, cyberbullying is an increasing stressor for young people whose frequent use of social media is integral to how they maintain relationships, so information on dealing with cyberbullies and being social media savvy is delivered within the context of both stress management and healthy relationships.

“Similarly, alcohol/drug use has linkages to sexual behaviour, relationships and stress management, and so relevant information is given within those contexts so that young people begin to see those links more clearly and develop skills for better decision-making and safer behaviours.”

Another strength of the Resiliency Toolkit Programme is that it is neither ad hoc nor a ‘once-and-done event’. “We’ll be working across years 9-13, forming relationships with both students and schools and providing consistent information and skills that build year upon year,” said Cullimore.