Newsflash! Focusing on youth as a problem marginalises them while working with their strengths and talents has a positive impact.
This might seem obvious, but new research into three grassroots programmes has demonstrated a ‘truism’ that’s frequently ignored by those focusing on so-called ‘youth issues’.
“Confidence changes everything,” according to a young member of the Naenae Boxing Academy, one of the three projects evaluated. The others are Streets Ahead 237 which provides alternatives to joining gangs, and the Dziah Dance Academy using Hip Hop to develop young people in South Auckland.
Massey University’s Whariki Research Group has evaluated these programmes which work within the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa (YSDA) framework for supporting positive youth development. Each has been supported in their work by the Vodafone Foundation.
Social acceptance, capability building and health and wellbeing are key parts of their approach and the research has shown the programmes share some common traits:
– Providing safe and supportive environments
– Providing safe and supportive people and relationships
– Providing positive activities and opportunities
Against a back-drop of negative publicity about so-called ‘youth-issues’ the research shows young people are essential to finding solutions and opportunities for their own future.
According to Whariki researcher, Hector Kaiwai, the work has provided some great case studies to provide evidence for what many youth-sector workers already know.
“Our young people are the ones who are best placed to create and improve their own destinies.”
Vodafone Foundation Chairperson, Michael Stanley says the evaluation has been groundbreaking for the Foundation and will hopefully help the whole sector.
“The successful focus point this research has shown is our partners’ ability to hook young people into learning and development,” he says.
A full copy of the Whariki Evaluation can be downloaded from www.vodafoneNZFoundation.org.nz