YMCA Evolve: Supporting young people during a critical time in their lives

11/09/2018

For many young people the transition from primary school to high school can be a difficult one. Not only does it usually involve going to a different school and having to make new friends, it also often coincides with many physical and emotional challenges.

To ease this transition and help prepare young people for the changes ahead, the YMCA Youth Services team has developed a leadership and personal development program for Grade 6 students, called YMCA Evolve.

YMCA Evolve works in conjunction with the Victorian curriculum to help primary school students, aged between 11 and 12 years, develop the skills, self-awareness and connections they need to grow into young people with resilience, good mental wellbeing and confidence to express their voice.

Over the last 12 months, YMCA Evolve has been brought to 25 schools across Victoria, with positive results.

For Jim Pumpa, a Grade 5 and 6 teacher at Wantirna South Primary school, he can see the difference the program has made in his classroom.

“It really helped students in their preparation for high school. It’s broken down the social groups we have within our Grade 6 contingent and got them working outside their comfort zone, challenging them to work with other groups,” said Jim.

Ian Boorman, Manager of YMCA Youth Services, is thrilled with the initial outcomes. Participants are reporting an increased connection with their fellow classmates as well as an improvement in their confidence, communication and teamwork.

“The feedback we’ve received from teachers and students is that the program is having an impact. We want to share it with all Victorian students, not just ones living in metropolitan areas,” said Ian.

One student remarked after a session, “I feel like we learnt something new and I feel like in the week that we haven’t been with the YMCA Evolve team, I’ve used some of the skills the program taught.”

This year, the program will be rolled out in disadvantaged areas in Victoria using money raised from the 2018 YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run.

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