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Friday fun for kids old and young!

Invercargill’s young people have plenty of chances to get away from the television and have some healthy fun thanks to the congregation at Lindisfarne Methodist Community Centre.

For more than 25 years parishioner, story-teller, and former librarian Elizabeth Miller (also known as Dream Weaver) has run Story Room, an after school reading and craft session at the church. More recently the congregation has started two Friday evening social events, one for 9-11 year olds called Friday Club and the other for 12-and-overs called Youth X-Treme.

Margaret Brass is one of the coordinators of the Friday Club. She says Story Room is run in conjunction with seven schools in the south Invercargill area. It is held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4pm-5pm.

“At Story Room the children hear a story and then do a craft project based on the story so they have something to take home. There is no religious instruction. We do give them a healthy afternoon tea, usually brown bread with a choice of spread and a soft drink. We also have a large library so they can borrow books to take home.

“The children are selected by their schools for educational or social reasons. Some schools select children who need encouragement to read, others send children who are advanced readers. Some children come because they need to get out of their shells, others because they are a bit too confident. Margaret says.

Friday Club began in 1999 and is modelled on Story Room. It meets once a month on Friday afternoons 4:30pm-6:30pm. The children play a game; listen to a story and then do a craft activity.

“Friday Club differs from other youth groups because we provide a sit-down two course meal,” Margaret says. “We provide meat and veggies and then a pudding, not a dessert but a real pudding like apple crumble or jam roly-poly.

“We sit at round tables with eight to 10 people. The adult helpers sit down to eat with the children. For some of the children it is a new experience to sit at a meal and have a conversation because they usually sit in front of TV and eat finger food.”

Some of the older children stay on after Friday Club to attend Youth X-Treme.

It too is based around fun and games but there is some religious teaching in the mix as well. Some of the teenagers who attend Youth X-Treme, which meets every week, are congregation members, others are friends of members, and some have come from Story Room to Friday Club to Youth X-Treme.

The youth programmes are a labour of love for the Lindisfarne congregation. All three programmes run thanks to teams of volunteers.

Among some of the pivotal figures is convenor of the outreach committee Dorothy King. Nicol Macfarlane coordinates Friday Club activities with Margaret, and Wilma Capil organises the food for Friday Club. Lindisfarne’s Rev Motekiai Fakatou is one of the organisers of Youth X-Treme.