WAYDT rolls with the punches during Covid

Covid has been challenging for communities across West Auckland. And even more so for young Westies. Multiple lockdowns have seen schooling interrupted and sports and leisure activities cancelled or postponed. No organisation appreciates the impact on young people more than the West Auckland Youth Development Trust (WAYDT).

The not-for-profit organisation is all about teaching life skills to young people through the sport of boxing. The group channels the energies of youngsters aged 9-24 in a positive way. Each class promotes values crucial to success both in and out of the ring, including resilience, respect and personal responsibility.

WAYTD is part of the Billy Graham Youth Foundation and is also a true West Auckland organisation. Operations Manager Cherie Brown explains more: ‘Our premises is in Sunnyvale while most staff and the majority of our young people live out West.

‘We have strong networks and relationships with our community stakeholders and local kids,’ she says.

Last year was undoubtedly a difficult one for WAYDT. Not only were classes suspended during lockdown, but the group’s finances were also badly affected. Traditional funders reduced their level of support or stopped altogether. This caused major disruption to the group’s young members.

However, a successful application to The Trusts Your West Support Fund has helped the organisation to survive the challenges of lockdown. The grant of $5,380 was used to part-fund the costs of the head coach. A part-time position only, the head coach regularly volunteered to deliver classes and work with young people. The Your West Support Fund has made a big difference to WAYDT, giving a much-needed boost to finances.

And despite Covid-19 lockdowns, the group achieved much last year. WAYDT is especially proud to be at the forefront of developing boxing as a sport for young women. The group now has a specialist female coach and a growing number of girls and women-only classes.

‘We are actively working to break down the stereotypes of women in sport and are super proud of our first females’ group,’ says Cherie.

Another highlight last year was a trip to Wellington to participate in a tournament hosted by Naenae Boxing Academy. Six young people flew the flag for West Auckland and enjoyed putting all their hard work into action in the ring.

According to Cherie, the tournament was a valuable opportunity for the youth.  It allowed them to showcase their skills, bond as a team, and proudly represent WAYDT and West Auckland.

‘The Trusts has a long reputation of supporting West Auckland communities,’ says Cherie. ‘And we are really grateful to the Your West Support Fund for helping us achieve so much last year.’

WAYDT is just one of more than 100 community organisations to benefit from the $500,000 Your West Support Fund. Designed to provide short-term financial assistance, the fund has helped local groups deliver essential services during Covid.