At-risk youth will benefit from creative partnership

Youth at risk of school disengagement will directly benefit from a new partnership between the University of Auckland and Youthtown Inc.

The University of Auckland’s Center for Arts and Social Transformation (CAST) will be able to continue its research on building youth resilience through arts, recreation, sports and music, thanks to a commitment from three-year funding from Youthtown.

The centre’s director, Professor Peter O’Connor, says Youthtown and CAST have a lot in common, which makes the partnership perfect.

“We both understand the central importance of play in people’s lives, not just for fun but as a way to test and try out new ways of knowing and being in the world. As we learn to live with Covid, research-based and evidence-based youth development will be increasingly important in shaping how we respond to the challenges young people face.

Youthtown CEO Fay Amaral is thrilled to collaborate in this way for the benefit of young people.

“Youthtown is proud to be part of the work to raise the profile of the importance of youth development work and engagement to our rangatahi through play; whether through art, recreation or sport.

“Our 90-year history and legacy is built on connection, engagement and empowerment and the work done at CAST will enable us to do more for our youth across Aotearoa.”

The relationship builds on work already done with Youthtown on a program called GROW, led by the University’s Dr. Laura Chubb and her team, and it is hoped that the type of ideas incorporated into GROW can be expanded over the coming years. next three years.

GROW is for rangatahi in care, alternative education, or those facing life challenges that significantly impact their ability to engage and succeed, says Dr. Chubb.

“It has been designed in the vein of the ‘Nga Uri Ō’ Maori model and brings together ‘tested’ youth development activities based on creative play, arts and sports.

“It encourages young people to discover who they are and to take the time to imagine and shape the life they aspire to, while engaging meaningfully with the communities and people in the environments around them.”

She says that Nga Uri Ō encourages expanding one’s understanding of one’s place in the world in relation to others through three interrelated ideas: ko wai au (who am I?); ko wai koe (who are you?) and ko wai tātou (who are we?).

“For young people to succeed in life and be resilient in the face of challenges, it is essential that they have supportive relationships with important people in their lives. GROW was developed for young people who will benefit from intentionally establishing these structured relationships,” says Dr. Chubb.

“It is aimed primarily at rangatahi who are still engaged in school, but their social workers are concerned that without additional scaffolding there is a risk of disengagement.

Currently run as a Youthtown program with referrals from Oranga Tamariki, GROW is available at various sites in Auckland, with hopes of expanding to national Youthtown sites.

This is a new iteration of a previous Youthtown program that Dr. Chubb redesigned in collaboration with University professor Christa Fouché, doctoral student Suzette Jackson, professional teacher Shirley Ikkla and Youthtown in 2021.

About CAST
Established through a donation from the Chartwell Trust in 2019, CAST explores how the arts have the potential to create a more socially just and equitable world by improving the quality of life for all citizens.
The center actively builds relationships with educators, artists, activists, policy makers and communities to seek the power of the arts for social transformation.

About Youthtown
Youthtown was established in 1932 and is a nationally run non-profit organization that aims to empower young people in Aotearoa New Zealand to perform at their best.

It runs several programs and spaces across the country for youth ages 5-18 that aim to inspire and promote learning life skills, working collaboratively, understanding and building resilience, and releasing the potential through education, recreation, sports and arts programs.

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