Nelson YMCA executive director Gary Cox is excited about expanding its education offering into different locations. Photo: Charles Anderson.

YMCA looks to expand

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Gary Cox is looking to the future.

The YMCA Nelson executive director has recently overseen an expansion into Motueka and Wellington and also bought the Nelson Training Centre as the organisation tries to increase its education network.

As well as offering early childhood education and after-school care, Gary says many people might not know about what it does for other students.

“That’s partly our fault, we say that it’s our best kept secret. But we don’t want to be a secret anymore,” Gary says.

“This is a big step for us.”

Gary says YMCA is focused on giving “second chance” learners another go at education.

“These are students for whom school hasn’t worked. The course is ideal for young people who have left school without enough qualifications and would like another chance to work toward completing their study.”

YMCA offers courses for NCEA level 1, 2 and 3 which is entirely free for students as it’s funded through the Tertiary Education Commission.

With all the new locations, this year it is more than quadrupling the number of students it has on its books.

“We keep our classes small and friendly with lots of tutor support, offering assistance to find employment or help further educate our students.”

Gary says they offer the opportunity for young people to re-engage with their education, work in a friendly, supportive environment and take part in a range of community-based activities.

He says that the expansion is part of a vision for the YMCA – a far cry from how it was looking 25 years ago.

“Then we had to close down for about 18 months but now it’s all about the future.”

He says the YMCA has been turned around and is secure.

“It’s great to let people know what we are doing.”