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108 FEBRUARY 2008
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postcard from leon fulcher

From New Zealand

Here’s wishing Happy New Year to Child and Youth Care workers world-wide. Here’s hoping your Western Calendar year got off to a good start and that planning for the Chinese New Year of the Rat is also progressing. A Rat Year is said to be a time of hard work (!!), activity, and renewal. Those who follow the Chinese zodiac cycle say this is a good year to begin a new job, get married, launch a product or make a fresh start. The Chinese do not view rats as the vile creatures the West often portrays them to be. Rats are clever and bright (watch them dart); sociable (they like to move in packs); and family-minded (always bring back stuff for the brood). They also have broad interests (check out all the places you can find them in) and have an incredible ability to adapt to the environment and swiftly react to changes. (Have you ever tried to catch a rat? They defend, attack, run around in circles – cunning little creatures.) Remember the Year of the Rat as you dart here and there in the coming months, moving to meetings and events in packs, and always thinking about mealtimes.

A purposeful beachcomber

People-watching on a New Zealand beach during the Southern Hemisphere summer holiday break offers a lot of action. First there are young families with adventurous children who run here and there, while young people check out the action all along the beach, the swimmers, the sand castle builders, the horizontal water slide and the surf. Next one follows the surfers; gathering for the next good wave, some catching short darting runs before paddling back to sea in search of a better ride. Seasoned surfing activists rated the surf poorly that day.

Surfers at the end of a session

I thought what a perfect metaphor for Child and Youth Care work. Every programme has its “beachcomber kids” who wander about in search of action, and invariably, somebody is chasing after them. Then there are the youth gangs and cliques who gather in anticipation of action. While there are variations depending on seasons, cultural tastes and traditions or regional fads, the fact remains that youths gather together for shared purposeful activity.

Surf rescue

Then of course, to help make this metaphor of Child and Youth Care even more complete, one was mindful of the surf rescue team who were ever vigilant, scanning the scene for potential problems or difficulties, ready to intervene with urgency if the need arose. In its ideal form, these are the Child and Youth Care workers who must cater to the needs of different beachcombers and surfers, ready to intervene if things start getting into difficulty but standing back wherever possible to let children and young people engage the beach or world around them with developing competencies.

New beginnings

Changing tack, some will have wondered what happened with the January edition of CYC-Online. “Working on a shoestring” gets difficult when one of a small team of contributors falls ill. We are delighted that Brian is back on board in his role as Master to we Apprentices. All of us at CYC-Net are determined to make 2008 and the Chinese Year of the Rat a successful one. New Year’s Resolution: tips are accepted everywhere for good service. Instead of thinking about donations, give CYC-Net a tip!

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