Festival of Culture and Community Coming Next Week to Auck

Press Release – YMCA

In its 15th year, much-loved Eden/Albert festival brings community together and builds strong appreciation and respect for diversity amongst children and families AUCKLAND, Tuesday November 15th – 2011 The team at the YMCA Mt Albert Community Centre …MEDIA RELEASE

Festival of Culture and Community
Coming Next Week to Auckland

In its 15th year, much-loved Eden/Albert festival brings community together and builds strong appreciation and respect for diversity amongst children and families

AUCKLAND, Tuesday November 15th – 2011 The team at the YMCA Mt Albert Community Centre are putting the finishing touches on the centre’s biggest event of the year, the Eden/Albert Schools Cultural Festival, to be held on Saturday 26th November. The centre is run by YMCA Auckland, one of the oldest community organisations in the country and a leading provider of fitness, recreation, childcare, accommodation and sports.

Organisers are expecting over 7000 people in attendance on the day, watching up to 40 different cultural performances from 12 local schools. The diverse performances include Kapa Haka, Indian, Tongan, Japanese, Polynesian, Philipino, Cook Islands, Samoan, Niuean and many more. They will all share indoor and outdoor stages at the Mt Albert War Memorial Reserve, commonly known as Rocket Park.

“The festival began 15 years ago, hosted by local schools, and became so successful that five years ago Auckland City Council asked YMCA Mt Albert to run the event,” says YMCA Mt Albert Community Centre Manager and festival organiser Robyn Brady. “It’s an enormous undertaking – we spend a full year planning and organising it. Ten YMCA staff members and a large group of volunteers work tirelessly to make the event happen on the day. This year we are graciously funded by the ASB Community Trust and supported by the Auckland City Council and, Community Boards of Eden Albert and Roskill as well as local business sponsors,” she says. Apart from supporting the lineup of cultural performances, the team will also offer YMCA activities including Y-Kids games, youth programmes and amusement rides.

Brady says that the hard work is all worth it. “Each year the festival grows and creates a real buzz around the community. Over the past few weeks and months, all sorts of individuals, families, and schools have asked to join our festivities.”

“We achieve two main aims,” says Brady. “Firstly, the community’s children are at the centre of attention. As they dance and perform, their faces light up with joy. The event gives them the opportunity to build confidence and character, through learning, creating, practicing and performing. They are able to share their own traditions with friends, family and the community, while also being exposed to a colourful array of cultures.”

YMCA’s celebration of diversity also extends to the wider community. “Our second major outcome is that the festival reflects and builds the wider communities of Mt Albert, Mt Eden and Mt Roskill,” says Brady. “So many of the parents involved are new immigrants, or second and third generation kiwis from a wonderful mix of cultures. It’s heartening to see everyone standing side by side, watching their children perform. The festival brings the community together, but it also creates a community of its own. The diversity of the day, coupled with a sense of communal belonging, is what makes it so special.

Youth participation is central to the festival. “To include all ages and stages into the festival, we give our youth volunteers the opportunity to help with the managing and staging of the event,” notes Brady. “YMCA’s Raise Up N Represent youth development programme creates a space for 13 to 18 year olds to relax, socialise and enjoy the show.”

“Most importantly,” says Brady, “the festival is a celebration. In our daily lives, cultural tolerance is expected and accepted. But this is something more. At our festival, we not only respect different cultures, but we celebrate them The atmosphere is charged with a community-wide excitement and caters to people from all walks of life. Our diversity stimulates our unity. Each individual and group becomes a piece of the colourful YMCA mosaic.”

About YMCA Mt Albert

YMCA Mt Albert’s vision is to Build Strong Kids, Strong Families and Strong Communities. It’s core values are “Caring, Respect, Honesty and Responsibility”. Its services include Fitness, Recreation, OSCAR, Community Education and Outreach. Through these services it has built a strong community hub where people come to it to facilitate programmes.

Established in 1855 YMCA Auckland is one of the oldest organisations in the country. Its’ mission is to lead the way as the most respected provider of services for people to reach their full potential in body, mind and spirit. The YMCA Auckland owns/operates nine fitness clubs, delivers youth programmes at seven sites across Auckland with over 4,000 attendances each month, has more stadiums than anyone else (eight), has three camps, a 130 bed hostel and a 100 room hotel. It also has two swim schools, three early childhood education facilities and is the largest provider of OSCAR programmes in New Zealand.

For more information see http://www.ymcaauckland.org.nz/

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