YWCA + Shama Ignite Retreat

Earlier this month YWCA Hamilton and Shama came together to run the Ignite Retreat for young women in the Waikato. This is how it went.

The YWCA of Hamilton and Shama have been collaborating for Ignite for years to bring a diverse range of young women together to up skill their life skills. At the beginning of March 2019, we came together and took it up a notch by developing the first-ever Ignite Retreat. This was a weekend away for young women 14-17 years of age with the aim of building self-confidence and teamwork skills.

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The weekend was held at First Step Outdoors and run by the incredible instructor Kate Parr. The girls were able to test their skills at rock climbing, abseiling, flying fox and caving. For many, this was their first time attempting these activities, like Rana, one of the participants said: "I actually feel like I’m more physically, like before didn’t know I could do stuff like that but ... I consider myself pretty good now, and yeah, I feel more confident.”

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We were also lucky enough to have Jodie, formally from WILSS (Waikato Institute for Leisure and Sport Studies) come in and do a healthy cooking class with the young women. Basing the cooking class around healthier alternatives, Jodie was able to teach the girls that what's good for your insides can taste delicious and be quite simple to make.

Over the weekend the girls were forced to learn tolerance of each other's habits and also how to trust each other and they all came out with new friends. Rosalie, another participant, said “I really liked being able to meet new people … I normally just stick on the side but I was just able to communicate with other people and actually make friends.”

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Sharing this experience with these young women and watching the bonds created between them cross all boundaries including culture, age and background was truly heartwarming. These girls were faced with challenges that some had never been faced with and they banded together to help each other achieve their personal goals and make it through. I am so proud of our girls and cannot wait for the next retreat - watch this space!

Zeta Mohn, YWCA Hamilton Programmes Coordinator