Halswell Domain

Halswell Domain
View from the Model Engineers' site in the Halswell Domain

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Familiar Faces: Alex McLelland

If you have a seen  a young bearded man in his mid 20s cruising around the Halswell neighbourhood on his skateboard in bare feet, you will probably know the   face of Alex McClelland.  You may also know him because he has lived in Halswell from the age of six,  or because he is  a church youth group leader here.

The oldest of three children, Alex grew up in Hyndhope Road in a devout Baptist family.  What is a little more unusual for a traditional Baptist family is that he was sent   to the Catholic school, St.Thomas' in Sockburn.   On a school trip  to India at age 16, he observed the church's strong commitment to being actively involved in making a difference.  These strong spiritual influences  continue to shape Alex's character and choices today.
Alex and the Grand Canyon
Alex flats in Balcairn St with three friends and has recently completed a political science degree at Canterbury University.  He, however, has a  growing interest in mentoring young people and his daytime job is as a 24/7 youth worker at Middleton Grange School.  He says  the goal of his work is to get students to fully engage with school. Alex's studies have continued and he is presently studying Theology.

Travelling is also of interest.  After finishing his degree, he went to live in Phoenix, Arizona for a year, where the temperature is over 30 degrees celsius 100 days of the year and reaches a high of 49. At the other  extreme, another favourite place that he has been  is Northern Iceland and he loved it because "it was so remote and  there are only four hours of daylight and we got to see the Northern Lights"  He has also been to  some more unusual destinations:  the Sahara Desert, the coast and mountains of Morocco,  Georgia and Armenia.

While Alex enjoys travelling, it is also clear that having a strong connection with his local area is also very important to him.  When asked about this, he explains " I grew up in Halswell when it was a village and I'm afraid we are losing that.  It is important to me that I live in a place of belonging, not just a place of rest or a dormitory suburb and  that I live here and contribute to the area.  I think that we can have village "hub" with food, and recreational space, (including  a skateboard park) right here in Halswell.”

Alex has been a youth group leader at the Halswell site of South West Baptist Church for eight years.  The aim is to is to provide a place where young people can  "have fun without getting into trouble". Some of their activities  are:  camping, tramping, (recently they went  to  Able Tasman) and going on various outings around the city.  There are also  opportunities to develop leadership skills at the youth group and to help in other ways.  Alex explains his role there further: "All people crave belonging and value, especially young people.  My aim is to do my part to show them how to interact with the world in a positive way."
If you see Alex, skating in the neighbourhood say "Hi!" or if you would like to check out the youth group, it meets in Balcairn St at the church on  Tuesdays from 7-8.30.

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