Welcome to the Spring edition of Community - a YMCA Auckland publication celebrating the people in and around our communities. In this edition, CEO Peter Fergusson takes a close look at wellbeing - a concept that permeates so much of our lives but seems so hard to pin down. Read on to find out more.

Wellbeing. It’s a word lightly thrown around these days and plastered on everything from cereal boxes to scented candles. But scratch beneath the marketing buzz and advertising slogans, and wellbeing in the truest sense of the word permeates so much of our lives.

Wellbeing: the state of being happy, healthy or prosperous.

It’s a hard state to pin down because your sense of happiness and prosperity might be entirely different from mine. There’s no denying the commonalities, though: our emotional state, how engaged we are with others and our community, our relationships and sense of purpose and accomplishment all combine to make us feel positive about the lives we lead.

Wellbeing can’t be manufactured – it has to be nurtured, and finding and fostering the right mix to generate a sense of wellbeing cannot be done in isolation. It takes a village.

That ethos shines through in this edition of Community. Take for instance the Zalkalnins family from west Auckland. For four years mum Angela has faced numerous health challenges that have had a great impact on her family. Her son Jake has been by her side throughout and has had to experience far more than the average 10 year old.

No family should face hardships alone. Angela and Jake’s story moved many of our staff, and it was an honour to offer Jake a place on our winter school holiday programme at Camp Adair. The ability to send Jake to camp was thanks to the many contributions of our fundraisers and donors, and I cannot overstate the impact their contributions have made for the wellbeing of this family and many others like them. It takes a village.

In this edition we also look at the impact of taking targeted health programmes into the community. Once again several individuals and organisations banded together to help improve the wellbeing of people across Auckland – this time through a pilot Jumpstart diabetes programme for the South Asian community. A special thanks to Aktive – Auckland Sport & Recreation for supporting the programme.

Jumpstart’s impact on the wellbeing of individuals is best highlighted in Tirita Coombe’s story. After losing her husband, Tirita fell into a spiral of depression and isolation that saw her slowly slipping towards Type 2 diabetes. Jumpstart not only encouraged Tirita to get active, it also gave her a sense of accomplishment and purpose and, most importantly, connected her to community. She’s now a much loved regular attendee at Lagoon Pool and Leisure Centre in Panmure, and it brightens all of our days to see her friendly face around the centre.

Finally, we take a look at a new food programme at YMCA’s Papakura and Manurewa Early Learning Centres. Through the Know Me Eat Me programme healthy habits are being created from an early age. What strikes me most about the story, though, is the contribution of staff member Erana Tawhai. Erana’s children attended Papakura Early Learning Centre and now she’s giving back to the community as a wellbeing educator.

Wellbeing. It’s not an easy word to define, but peer into a YMCA centre on any given day and there it is being nurtured by a community of people working towards a common good.

Until next time,
Peter Fergusson
CEO – YMCA Auckland-Hamilton

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