Happy for rates to go to young achievers

Most of the money the city council collects in rates goes towards providing essential services to keep Christchurch running smoothly, but each year a small proportion goes to what I would describe as good causes.

It is spending that seldom makes the news because it is generally small stuff; a few hundred dollars here, a few thousand dollars there.

It is money though that can make a big difference - to individuals and to community groups.

The council classes it as "community support" and spends about 6 cents out of every dollar it collects in rates on it.

Personally, I like to think of it as investment in people.

Some of the money is distributed via the council's community boards. My favourite is the youth development fund, which is designed to help young people reach their potential.

Recently the Hagley-Ferrymead Community Board gave $500 to Shirley Boys' High School student, Nicholas Cropp. Nicholas is 17, lives in Sumner and is brainy.

He is head prefect and has been the top scholar in his year group every year since 2010. He has been chosen, along with four other students from around the country, to represent New Zealand at the International Geography Olympiad, which is being held in Krakow, Poland, in August. He has to pay for the trip himself and has been working part-time in a supermarket to raise the $4500 cash he needs.

The community board has offered to pay some of his costs so he can compete on the world stage.On the other side of the city the Fendalton-Waimairi Community Board is making a similar investment in 19-year-old Hamish Petersen. The Strowan student is one of 24 from around the country who have been chosen to travel to London to participate in the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand Young Shakespeare Company. For two weeks he will be immersed in the world of Shakespearean theatre and coached by top actors and directors.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an aspiring actor.

Another 20-year-old, Shane McInroe, is getting $5000 from the Shirley-Papanui Community Board so he can present a paper at a Disability Studies in Education Conference at Melbourne's Victoria University.

Shane has a learning disability and is passionate about advocating for the rights of people with a disability to be involved in the education system. The paper he will be presenting is about his experience with the education system.

He lives with his foster mum and without the board's financial assistance would never be able to afford to attend the conference.

Providing Shane, Nicholas and Hamish with funding can't really be classed as core council business but frankly I'm happy for a little portion of the rates I pay to be spent on them. If the council doesn't invest in its people, the city will be the poorer for it.

The Press