Testing times for young people at St John Youth Festival in Queenstown

Ian Henderson |

Over 220 young people and their supporters from around New Zealand are heading to Queenstown later this week for the St John National Youth Festival and Competitions (12-15 April).

This year’s Festival is especially important, as 2012 marks the 85th anniversary of the beginning of the St John Youth programme in New Zealand.

The Festival is the major event for St John Youth in New Zealand.  As well as competitions this year’s festival has a theme of ‘the Environment’ and will include an environmental hui where participants will discuss pertinent environmental issues.

For many of the Festival participants, the competitions day is the key event and what they have been training for since last year.    The three St John Regions in New Zealand (Northern, Central and South Island) are represented by 11 eleven teams who will be tested (as teams and individuals) in first aid, healthcare, leadership, communications, and drill (marching).

Props, make-up and ‘patients’ will be used in every phase of competition to recreate realistic accident and medical emergency situations.  Scenes are staged as realistically as possible so that competitors react in a way that mirrors how they would respond in actual accidents and medical emergencies.

“Competing in teams and as individuals provides our Cadets with the opportunity to develop skills and work together from an early age,” explains St John South Island Region Youth Manager Michelle Brett.

St John Youth is a member-based, uniformed, co-educational programme for six to 18 year olds.  Currently more than 6,000 people participate in the programme in New Zealand.  St John Youth provides a safe and secure environment where young people can learn first aid, health care, self discipline, and general life skills. 

“The ethos behind St John Youth is developing skills, building self-esteem and a feeling of belonging, all concepts that are attractive to young New Zealanders,” Michelle says.  “This is especially pertinent in today’s society, where there are many pressures and demands on young people.  St John has a proud 85-year history of producing young New Zealanders who go on to be productive citizens.”

St John Youth Cadets put in hours of training in preparation for competitions, says Mrs Brett.  “They work very hard and are proud of what they do. Our youth programme aims to prepare them for life with so they are confident in any situation. The most rewarding part for me and other adults in St John Youth is watching these kids develop and grow in the programme.”

Mrs Brett thanked the Festival’s sponsors for their generosity in supporting St John Youth: Laerdal, Tait Communications, Christchurch International Airport Limited, Lakes Leisure, Ideal Electrical Suppliers, Four Square, Real Journeys, UniMed, Skyline Queenstown.

 The St John National Youth Festival and Competitions run from 12-15 April in Queenstown.

Members of the media are warmly invited to attend:

the competition day between 9.00am-4.30pm on Saturday 14 April at Wakatipu High School
the environment hui between 9.00am-midday on Sunday 15 April at Wakatipu High School gymnasium.

For more information on the St John Youth programme, please visit our website at http://youth.stjohn.org.nz/ 

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