A new life skills programme that will help youth with an intellectual disability to take steps towards independent living and employment will launch in the Bay of Plenty this year following a substantial grant from BayTrust.
Recreate NZ currently helps around 80 local families by providing fun outdoor adventures, social opportunities and recreational activities for people aged 10 to 35 who have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.
The charitable trust was established in Auckland in 2002 and also operates in Waikato and Christchurch, offering valuable day trips, short breaks and camps.
BayTrust has granted $23,800 towards their operating costs this year which will help employ another staff member in the Bay of Plenty and get the new programme up and running.
Recreate NZ's Bay of Plenty Programme Co-Ordinator Sophie McLaughlan said she and her colleagues had noticed school leavers often required more support to learn practical life skills in the community and just needed a place to continue their learning.
The organisation already runs a similar programme in Auckland which the local version will be modelled on.
"It will involve some cooking modules where we teach young people how to cook so they can hopefully live independently one day. Budgeting skills and money handling is another important area of learning we would like to focus on.
"We can also explore social skills – what's an appropriate way to interact in a variety of differing social situations. All of that ties into how to be independent in the community and also how to interact in a work environment," she said.
McLaughlan said she was looking forward to Recreate NZ hiring a new staff member in the coming months and the Life Skills programme being launched shortly afterwards.
Someone who is young themselves with a social work or youth work background would be ideal, she said.
"One of the main things we're looking for is a passion for young people and the ability to see those with intellectual disabilities as contributing members of society."
BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes said Recreate NZ had been invaluable for many local families by providing much-needed respite care and social opportunities for their loved ones.
Supporting organisations and programmes which promoted inclusivity was a key priority in achieving BayTrust's vision of ensuring the Bay of Plenty is the greatest place to be, he said.
"Recreate NZ do a wonderful job of helping people who are disadvantaged to participate in, and contribute, to our community.
"This new life skills programme will be another step forward for many people in achieving their dreams of independent living or entering the workforce. We're excited to see the difference it will make to people's lives and are very pleased to be able to provide this financial support."