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Championing Youth Development

Championing Youth Development

Ara Taiohi is all about championing the excellent youth development work our members do and promoting what great practice looks like in the wide variety of settings that our members work in.

We're really excited to launch this series during Youth Week 2016, taking forward this year's theme Aroha Mai, Aroha Atu - Giving Back is Giving Forward.

Working with young people is more than a job and kaimahi get involved in this work for a variety of reasons. This week we showcase the work of the team at Eastern Southern Youth Trust and why they do what they do.


Youth work is all about giving back

Youth Week is happening from 21-29 May and celebrates 'Aroha Mai, Aroha Atu - Giving Back is Giving Forward'. This year we wanted to give the people who work with young people the space and opportunity to share their motivations to do the work they do so Kirsten from Ara Taiohi headed out to visit our members, the Eastern Southern Youth Trust (ESYT) to find out more about their work with young people living in the Southern and Eastern Suburbs of Wellington.

ESYT was set up in 2008 to support youth workers to work with young people and their whānau in these specific geographical communities. The Trust provides a huge range of programmes including Break-Out Dance School, holiday programmes, camps, after school programmes, work in schools and tutoring all from their converted garage in Strathmore.

“It’s a privilege,” says Graham, Senior Youth Worker when asked about why he does what he does. “There are parts of a young person’s life that no one else will ever get to see and we get the privilege of being part of that.” The others around the table are in agreement. For Legion, Director of Breakout Dance & Day Programme Coordinator, it was all about giving back. "Dancing sort of saved my life. I feel spiritually and culturally obliged to do [this work] for these kids cos we all have the same upbringing. I want them to chase their dreams the way I’ve chased mine."

Legion doesn't come from a youth work background but for Director of Youth Services Lorna Gray this is a real strength. She has chosen to create a team who bring a real range of skills. "We believe in the Circle of Courage and if we’re going to do mastery well, we’ve got to do it well so Legion has graduated from the Excel Performing Arts and he hasn’t just come and shared a bit of dance, he’s come and built a dance school, they’ve moved it to another place and they’re giving these kids from a really young age a mastery they can springboard from." For the team it goes without saying that they will all develop their skills in the key frameworks for people working with young people in Aotearoa. "It’s an amazing privilege that we’re working with people who are vulnerable but also quite extraordinary and we have to do it well," says Lorna. All ESYT youth workers have training and are familiar with the Circle of Courage, the Youth Development Strategy of Aotearoa, the New Zealand Code of Ethics for YouthWork in Aotearoa New Zealand, Te Whare Tapa Wha model of health for Māori, or the Fono Fale model for Pasifika. "We have a really strong faith base and we’re really clear on our faith but they’re the frameworks that hold us up."

This diverse mix of backgrounds and experiences enables ESYT to provide a range of programmes from after school girls' groups, to basketball hang outs and a dance academy all of which are run by individuals with expertise in these fields.

One of the unique aspects of ESYT is that the majority of the team live and work in the community that they serve. “Every young person comes from a whanau. Understanding and valuing their whanau and the community they live in is part of the package for us.” says Lorna Gray.

For Amy, the Trust's newest youth intern, this is exactly what attracted her to the organisation. “They’re not outside people who come and try work miracles and leave, they’re actually here for the long haul”.

Studies show that when young people have positive role models in their lives this can have a profound impact on their future choices and development. As Graham says, "There's a lot of cycling that goes on and it’s just the norm that they are used to, so when we work with the younger ones we’re able to give them a different pathway and get to see life in a different way." By providing opportunities for young people to see alternative pathways, they can discover the talents they possess and use these as a springboard for what comes next. 

ESYT doesn't just aim to work with the young people in the moment, they're not just satisfied with running a programme or giving our young people just a quick fix, and moving them off to the next thing. As Graham says, "For us we want to make sure that wherever they are they’re getting the same amount of support and the same amount of understanding so that’s why it’s really important we work with the parents and we get to know



If you know others who are doing awesome work with young people who you think we should profile let us know