By LUCY WORMALD
THE Whakatipu Youth Trust (WYT) is uplifting the voices of young people as part of their participation in Youth Week this year.
The national initiative, which started last Saturday, is run by New Zealand’s youth development peak body Ara Taiohi and supports youth organisations around the country to hold events encouraging youth to take on challenges and share ideas.
Catering to youth aged 10-24, WYT runs a youth centre in Frankton and offers mentoring, goal-oriented support, counselling and social work services.
The trust also focuses on providing positive youth development opportunities through different programmes and activities, WYT’s clinical manager and youth counsellor Leah Sellwood says.
‘‘So that could be skill-building or community connection-building and the youth trust has been there to provide alternative trusted adults in the community that young people might be able to reach out to for help and build connections.’’
From last Saturday, WYT has been hosting a range of activities like cooking, sport, and competitions and provide space for local youth to create an art piece that explores the issues they face.
Sellwood says the artwork acts as a platform to both acknowledge the experiences of youth and act as a pulse check on what issues youth find most important.
‘‘Gathering the ideas through that week about what is important to them, what they see as issues … this is a honing in on their voices so we can help them be heard.
‘‘We can then use that information to create groups, or information sessions, or get in experts to then provide support about whatever the issue is,’’ she says.
Identifying climate change, wealth disparities and technology as some of the key issues kids in the Whakatipu are facing, Sellwood says youth are trying to find a sense of meaning in today’s world.
‘‘We want to support the young people to have their voices heard … because that age group gets overlooked very easily and it’s actually a very vital life stage of lots of change and challenges and we’re here to support them through that.’’