2018 Local Hero: Jill Gibson from the YMCA Auckland
From starting a childcare service to supporting those during the 2018 storms
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has helped to deliver programmes to three lower decile schools in the St Luke's trade area and had 562 children benefit from free participation in Hop Hop dance and gymnastics. Being able to take the programmes into schools for free meant there were no barriers and all children could benefit equally.
Jill’s 20-year association with the YMCA Mt Albert Community and Leisure Centre began because, in her words, her son was being a pest one day when she took him to her aerobics class there.
She decided to set up a childcare service at the centre, and it has grown to accommodate 30-odd children a day.
Since then she has taken on employment at the centre, where she is now the manager.
“After seven years, my children were older and I wanted a stable job,” she says.
As centre manager, Jill continues to come up with new ideas that benefit the community.
These include partnerships with GPs to bring health services to the YMCA-run centre and targeted fitness classes for young people with mental health conditions.
During the storms and power outages in April 2018, Jill made sure the centre opened its doors to anybody in need of a hot shower.
The centre offers playgroups, after-school care and holiday programs on top of the usual organised sport.
Perhaps most significantly, Jill makes sure that nobody’s financial position stops them from joining the community.
“Those who are willing but unable to pay can apply to have their fees paid for them,” says Jill, who is honored to be a Westfield Local Hero for 2018.