Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick was at the YES graduation and says she is very proud of what the participants have achieved. "It makes me quite emotional when I hear the graduates talk, and see their families come and support them. It's a super programme, and the fact it's homegrown is wonderful. It's more of that innovative thinking we need so that we can fill the gaps in our community, and really get the wheels turning," she says. "I love the YES programme. It's very people-intensive and it's a huge commitment from the emergency services. "This is one of the most practical programmes that I've seen in our entire district, not only to fill in the gaps as people leave emergency services, but also for the participants' exposure to the various different emergency services."
YES programme volunteer Annastasia Wieblitz, 20, says doing the YES programme has been a life changing experience. "Before I did this programme I knew I wanted to help people but I didn't know much about the emergency services, I just knew a little bit about St John, and I thought maybe that would be the best fit for me because I like helping sick people, but now I'm volunteering at civil defence. It's my fifth week this week and it's great fun," she says. "What we have done so far has been really exciting. We have been out and checked places for flooding, stuff like that. It's been amazing. I'm definitely going to stick with civil defence."
Roger Bawden and Sarah Orton from Land Search and Rescue say the participants were taught basic skills which included navigation, observation skills, and pendant tracking during their LandSAR module. Sarah says she has seen huge growth in the participants. "I'm absolutely stunned, just having seen them at our training day, then again at our scenario day, and then again at their graduation, they have come on in huge leaps and bounds. We we first met them, they looked at a map and kind of said, we think this way is up, and now they are getting up and speaking in public, carrying stretchers, putting out fires — it's just amazing."
Ministry of Youth Development regional team manager Blair Gilbert says the YES programme is unique. "It started in Rotorua three years ago for students in their last year at high school, and now it's rolling out across the country," he says. "This is the first time we piloted it with young job seekers, and we are really pleased with the success. It relies on and is run by good volunteers, who are there to help out and make a difference to the young people in the community. Without the volunteers we wouldn't exist. They do it all in their volunteer time. "I'm proud to be here at the graduation with the participants and all the emergency services. We believe it is really important that the community know that these young people are now trained and motivated to help others."
Rotorua Weekender - 29th May 2015