On your bike

01:22, Dec 20 2012
Number 10 Riders
RAISING AWARENESS: Number 10 centre manager Jocelyn Johnstone and youth services manager Ruth McLauchlan are ready for a big ride in January to interview youth and raise the profile of youth centres at risk of closure.

Invercargill's Number 10 centre manager is about to get on her bike and ride to promote positive stories of youth overcoming adversity around New Zealand.

Jocelyn Johnstone has dubbed her project MAYWOB - Middle Aged Youth Workers on Bikes - and is leading her gang from Auckland to Southland, filming young people who have come from challenging backgrounds and turned their lives around to become leaders.

Number 10 youth services manager Ruth McLauchlan plans to join her for the ride.

Yesterday, both women said they were nervous, but laughed about how excited they were to feel the wind in their faces.

Ms Johnstone hoped the trip would spark funding for Number 10 and the 10 other Youth One Stop Shop (YOSS) centres in New Zealand struggling to stay open.

New Plymouth closed its YOSS centre in October for lack of funding and youth sector leaders around New Zealand feared more closures could follow, she said.

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She had the idea to do the ride after recently buying a second-hand Kawasaki 250 Super Sherpa. Ms Johnstone - who hadn't ridden since her early 20s - said she got the "crazy idea" to ride it from Auckland to Hamilton, and down to Taupo and Wellington, asking young people for their stories.

All the YOSSs were under-funded and many struggled to pay their bills, she said. Number 10 - which had a budget increase from $500,000 in 2012 to $600,000 in 2013 - nearly closed in 2010 because of funding issues.

More community funding, along with recent health contracts, have kept the centre afloat.

Ms Johnstone quotes a 2009 Ministry of Health report saying funding models for the YOSS centres were complex, fragmented and varied around the country, leading to inequalities in youth access to services.

She hoped the motorbike trip would draw attention to the work the centres were doing, and the positive youth stories out there.

Many youth she had worked with in her 30 years of youthwork were now well, independent, and leaders themselves, reaching out to other youth, she said.

Those were the stories she wanted to capture on film.

"We talk about the troubles, we talk about what we want to see, but there's not much talk about what that turnaround looks like."

She had been in touch with other YOSS managers around the country, who were also getting excited about the roadtrip. Filmmaker Guy Ryan from the Inspiring Stories Trust had agreed to assist with filming.

The overwhelming response had been "let's do it", she said.

MAYWOB will begin in Auckland on January 14 and travel to Hamilton, Taupo, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Kapiti Coast, Upper Hutt, Wellington and Christchurch, before finishing in Invercargill on January 22.

The Southland Times