It was a first for the Awa City Clubhouse when eight adult students graduated with UCOL certificates in graphic design last week.

Ranging in age from 20-68, the students' graduation was held last week in the Whanganui UCOL Atrium following a year-long collaboration between the clubhouse and the Whanganui School of Design (WSD) based at UCOL.

UCOL's associate dean of creative Katrina Langdon, representing the WSD, said the Awa City Clubhouse co-ordinator Masina Kenworthy wanted to increase the use of the Wanganui District Council-led clubhouse where an accredited course was offered that could lead to further study and employment opportunities in the graphic design and digital media areas.

Ms Langdon said UCOL was keen to offer programmes off-site that would be more accessible to people in the community who were not engaged in education, training or employment.

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UCOL gained NZQA accreditation for the purpose-built training scheme and enrolled nine students last year.

The free programme was run during daytime hours two days a week at the clubhouse and students learned to use the Illustrator and Photoshop design software through focused graphic design projects.

Ms Langdon added that the collaboration was of great value for the clubhouse students who, should they decide to continue their education with UCOL, would be familiar and comfortable with the learning environment.

This year there are 12 clubhouse students enrolled in the certificate programme, which will be taught by UCOL graphic design graduate Jarrod Cornforth. The course times have been changed to Tuesday and Wednesday evenings to allow secondary school students who are current members of the clubhouse to attend.

The Awa City Clubhouse has been operating for four years. It is one of the Wanganui District Council's community-based digital programmes that delivers a range of opportunities for the community to be connected, develop digital skills and participate online. Two other programmes provided by the council are Computers in Homes and Aotearoa People's Network.

The clubhouse is part of the international organisation Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, based at MIT in Boston, USA. There are more than 100 clubhouses around the world.

The Awa City Clubhouse will be a "youth service activity" under the library service from July 1 and will be funded through the council's community development.

Awa City Clubhouse is at 7 Park Pl and is free for youth aged 10-18. The hours and programme details can be found on the Awa City Computer Clubhouse Facebook page or by emailing masina.kenworthy@wanganui.govt.nz.