Volunteer youth workers making a difference for kids doing it tough

MAKING A CHANGE: Young Life volunteers Alex Cuttiford Ansia Klavins and John Ryan. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 091916cyunglife

MAKING A CHANGE: Young Life volunteers Alex Cuttiford Ansia Klavins and John Ryan. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 091916cyunglife

THEY work trying to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged kids, volunteering their time to be positive mentors to local children.

And whether it’s just lending an ear or playing a game of basketball, the small band of Young Life volunteers working in the city are making a difference - one child at a time.

Area manager Ansia Klavins said the organisation had been in Bathurst for eight years, and the Kelso Community Centre program of a Monday afternoon is one of three programs the organisation runs.

It also runs a teen parenting program from the Baptist Church.

Ms Klavins said what they really aspire to do is have a positive influence on young children.

At Kelso the group can range from anything from 15 to 40 in size.

Volunteers and kids typically play outside games like basketball or football, enjoying afternoon tea and just taking time out to talk to each other.

“The kids really love it,” Ms Klavins said.

“I think they really value a positive place to come where it’s safe, where the people are generally interested in their lives.”

In the teen parenting program, the girls come together and learn life skills like budgeting and making the dollar stretch further, and are supported.

Ms Klavins said one of the most rewarding things about the group was seeing kids who have come through go on to much more positive things.

“I know we are absolutely making a difference in their lives,” she said.

“In this group in particular we have two young people who are in a 12-month residency doing a Certificate IV in school chaplaincy, and they hope to come back here into the community.”

Even the smaller results they get with kids are rewarding.

“Even something like eye contact or having a child who normally doesn’t speak to you come up and say ‘hello’,” Ms Klavins said.

“It’s the simple things like that which make all the difference. 

“That’s why we keep coming back.” 

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