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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON
@alliedpress.co.nz

“We never stop learning.”

They were the simple words of wisdom Bill Houia shared with the audience at Adult Learning Week celebrations in Alexandra last Thursday.

Mr Houia (82) was among the many people being recognised for their success as adult learners.

At just six years old, Mr Houia was refined to a wheelchair, not knowing if he would ever walk again. But, at the age of 10 he did just that and soon realised his health had wedged a gap in his learning that had “dogged him all his life”, tutor Penny Fitzgerald said.

He has worked to fill that gap ever since.

At the age of 80, Mr Houia signed up for Reap’s Choices programme, where he has continued to build on his skills over the past two years.

“This is a fantastic place to start from,” he said.

When receiving his certificate of achievement on Thursday, he reminded the audience “we never stop learning”.

Worth celebrating . . . Students (from left) Andrew Moyles, Hayley Ellis and Sharon Ferreira reflect on how far they have come since joining the Central Otago Reap’s Choices programme for adult learners. Their success was acknowledged by Penny Fitzgerald and Bernie Lepper. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

Sharon Ferreira, who was also recognised during the ceremony, acknowledged the positive impact the Choices programme had on her life. Before taking part in the programme, learning always had a “negative” connotation for her but that was no longer the case.

“I have learned a lot here that I didn’t think was possible until now.”

She was now working towards a career in the police.

Hayley Ellis, who received a certificate at Thursday’s ceremony, has also changed her way of thinking, thanks to the Choices programme.

It has helped her overcome her self-doubts. To do that she has learned to put strategies in place to overcome barriers.

Ms Ellis now enjoys writing and is building on her skills in that area, including creative writing.

“My goal next year would be to further my education and goals and to focus on my career path.”

Fellow Choices participant Andrew Moyles previously always learned by using his hands.

“Paperwork has never been my strong point,” he said.

However, Choices has helped change that.

“I enjoy being here.”

He has been working on his computer skills.

“I never really had much to do with computers when I was younger, but I have learned to overcome that.”

He has also proven his skill in the maths department after securing 4000 points towards the subject, along with 100 points towards his forklift accreditation.

His words of advice to anyone else considering adult learning are simple: “give it a go, because you’ve got nothing to lose”.