YMCA 4C Centre: A state-of-the-art technology centre for Christchurch young people


Within weeks of opening the Christchurch YMCA’s 4C Centre had already provided one of its young members with a paid work opportunity.

YMCA chief executive Josie Ogden Schroeder says the young man was asked by Canterbury University to produce 100 small pigs using the centre’s 3D printer.

“He made the first pig because his mum likes pigs and he made her one for Christmas,” she says. “Then the university ordered more of them to give to international students as part of the Year of the Pig.

The 4C Centre, which opened in December 2018, gives those aged 15 to 24 access to a wide range of digital equipment including 3D printers, computer-controlled cutters, robotics and virtual-reality equipment. The centre is open to all, but specifically aimed at young people who are not in education, employment or training and who lack access to IT education and resources.

“The focus is on learning and obtaining skills and a profile and a CV for employment.”

The 4C Centre (the name stands for curiosity, communication, creativity and critical thinking) was funded with a one-off $1m donation to create new opportunities for children and young people in the years following the Christchurch earthquakes. The funding was originally intended to develop a youth art space, but unexpected costs put that project on hold before construction began.

A new relationship between the YMCA and Aurecon, a global engineering firm with a base in Christchurch, created an opportunity to rethink how the funding could be used. By being patient and flexible the Todd Foundation was able to journey alongside the YMCA as they developed the idea for what became the 4C Centre.

The result is something that aligns well with the Foundation’s focus on youth employment – and better meets the needs of Christchurch’s young people .

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