Young people from across Hawke's Bay have learned the value of volunteering through the Youth in Emergency Services (YES) programme.

The programme is run collaboratively with New Zealand Red Cross and the New Zealand Fire Service, St John New Zealand, Land Search and Rescue, Civil Defence and other local community-based emergency service groups.

This year’s students completed a comprehensive first aid course before the programme began. This was because one of the delivery sessions was an outdoor first aid course, and the students needed to be prepared.

YES aims to strengthen and encourage student’s connections with their communities by engaging them with a range of volunteer emergency services.

When asked to reflect on what they had enjoyed about the YES experience, most students said they had developed better time management skills, had become more engaged and interested in school, had learned the value of trust and teamwork, and, by getting out of their comfort zones, had grown their confidence.

A few students from previous YES programmes came back to mentor this year’s intake. This was great motivation for the current students, and also allowed those who came back to enhance their own leadership skills.

The programme runs for five weeks, but the experience gained will last a lifetime.