Shawn SamuelsShawn Samuels. Photo suppliedVolunteering for a school holiday programme has been a good opportunity for Shawn Samuels to look at ways to volunteer in the future.

The YMCA Mid Canterbury student recently spent his own school holidays as a youth leader helping to run the campus Breakaway holiday programme for 11 to 17-year-olds.

Activities on the agenda included archery, a mini Olympics, swimming and football played in giant bubble suits.

“Volunteering has given me something to do during the school holidays,” he said.

“It’s all about helping the kids out, getting them to look after each other and support them.”

A keen mountain biker, Shawn said he was able to utilise the skills he learned during his eight years of biking for the various physical activities on Breakaway.

One of the motivations for volunteering was to set a good example for the younger kids on the programme who he hoped would become youth leaders as well one day.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and enjoyed teaching the younger kids,” he said.

Shawn hopes to become a truck driver when he finishes his study and is keen to look at how he can incorporate more volunteering into his future.

YMCA South and Mid Canterbury manager/community and youth development Poppy Cooper-Vear said she was proud to have some of her students sharing their time by volunteering on the holiday programme.

“Everybody’s time is precious, regardless of how old you are,” she said.

“All youth leaders attend our youth leadership course before starting the programme.

“It’s an opportunity to come together as a team and learn skills in conflict resolution, bullying, sport and recreation facilitation, and risk management.

“They also learn YMCA values which are respect, honesty, responsibility and caring.

“We say, ‘be the type of leader you would follow’.”

© The Ashburton Guardian - 2 May 2017

Tayla WrightTayla Wright. Photo supplied.For 17-year-old Tayla Wright, experiencing first-hand the benefits of a local youth programme has led to five years of volunteering.

When Tayla first moved to Ashburton and attended the physical training programme CACTUS (Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit and Support), she wanted to be able to give back for all the opportunities and new skills it had given her.

Now she is a peer support leader on the programme where she helps supervise the participants, works alongside them encouraging them to reach their goals, offers support, and joins in activities. “I have been offered various opportunities throughout my time volunteering with CACTUS,” she said.

“It has given me the opportunity to learn a lot of new skills like organisation, leadership, communication, the ability to work with a variety of people and being able to have a better understanding of their different backgrounds and cultures.”

She has also gained her Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh awards and is working towards a Gold award.

Keeping a balance between school, home and volunteering has been important to Tayla from the outset.

She said she makes sure she plans in advance how much time she can contribute so she can still focus on other areas of her life.

“The most rewarding thing for me about my work with CACTUS would definitely be seeing how much of a difference you can make by just giving the kids a chance and getting involved with the activities they are doing,” she said.

“It is very rewarding to see how the kids develop and change throughout the eight-week course, and the new skills and connections they make.

“It’s also nice to see all of the youth I have worked with around the community when they approach me and let me know how they are doing.”

Tayla said that once she finishes school she plans to attend university where she will study law and criminal justice with the aim of becoming a lawyer.

“I would love to still volunteer as it has become a big passion of mine which I would like to continue on with in my future,’ she said

© The Ashburton Guardian - 1 May 2017

Kyle CabangunKyle Cabangun. Photo supplied.The Ashburton region continues to produce some outstanding results in karate, particularly at the youth level.

A contingent of members from JION International Karate Dojo Ashburton competed at the New Zealand Open Karate Championships in Christchurch recently with a number of medals claimed over the weekend.

More than half a dozen of the Ashburton competitors took part in the championship with three managing top three placings and five medals being brought back to Ashburton.

Taylah Burrowes led the charge for Ashburton on the first day of the championships which were for the 13-year-old and younger competitors.

Burrowes placed first in Kata out of an intermediate division of four competitors.

Winning her first round meant she was able to advance straight to the final which she also won to claim the gold medal.

Later in the day she placed third in the premier F12-13-year-old Kumite 40kg division. After again winning her first round, Burrowes was beaten in the second but in a fight-off for third she claimed the bronze, winning 3-0.

Madison Soal grabbed Ashburton’s other medal on the opening day when she picked up silver in the F10-11-year-old development Kumite.

On Sunday, the championships shifted to the older divisions of 14-year-old and older and Kyle Cabangun produced some good results.

He picked up silver in the Cadet 14-15-year-old Intermediate Kata in a division of five competitors, winning his first round before being beaten for the gold in the final. He then fought in the premier division of the Kumite a few hours later and won his first round match-up 5-1 before claiming gold 2-1 in the final.

Isabel Wang, Holly Burrowes and Kyla Cheyne also competed with distinction at the championships. “They all fought hard and showed excellent sportsmanship, whether they won or lost,” Sensei Thorsten Windhorst said.

“I was very proud of all our competitors.”

For Burrowes and Cabangun the fun is only just beginning with the pair travelling to Wellington in July to compete in the National Karate Championships and National Secondary Schools’ Championship in July.

Burrowes will also be joined by fellow Ashburton gun, Isla Russell, in the New Zealand Karate team when they travel to South Africa in August to compete in the Commonwealth Karate Championships.

By Matt Markham © The Ashburton Guardian - 27 April 2017