Listening to our young people

Singer-songwriter Grace Gemmell performs at the Otepoti Youth Space launch. PHOTO: BLAKE ARMSTRONG
Singer-songwriter Grace Gemmell performs at the Otepoti Youth Space launch. PHOTO: BLAKE ARMSTRONG
"Every year in May, Youth Week is celebrated in New Zealand," writes LIZ HARBURG, Otago Community Trust community engagement adviser.

It is an opportunity to amplify young people’s valuable contributions to their communities by supporting them to design, deliver and evaluate all aspects of the week.

The theme this year is "Our voices matter, and we deserve to be heard!"

This theme reinforces the importance of taking the time to engage and listen to our youth and what their vision may be for the communities they live in.

As community engagement adviser for Otago Community Trust, an important part of my role is to engage and listen to our local youth, and support organisations with projects that have the potential to make a lasting impact for our young people in Dunedin.

In Otepoti Dunedin, the new Otepoti Youth Space in the Community Gallery is a beautiful example of the city’s young people being heard, making it clear they wanted their own creative space and place to be in.

As a funder we were delighted to be able to support this pop-up creative space for rangatahi and are impressed by the events and workshops that have and continue to be on offer over the week ahead.

Taking time and listening to the city’s youth and those working alongside them was a vital component that underpinned my work as I started out at the trust, and I have been privileged to meet some incredible young leaders and youth organisations in Dunedin.

Otago Community Trust adopted a new strategic plan from April 1 with four new funding pillars.

Under our "Thriving children and young people" pillar, we have a dedicated new tamariki and rangatahi strategy, which I am thrilled to be spearheading.

The trust is serious about making a difference for all young people in the region and, in additional to our annual community granting, has ring-fenced a further $10million over the next five years into assisting organisations and initiatives that seek to support the young people of Otago.

The theme of "Our voices matter, and we deserve to be heard!" this Youth Week reminds us as a funder that it is important to take the time to listen.

Therefore, if you have an idea for a project that you think can make an impact for young people, please don’t hesitate to reach out, I would love to listen and learn about how the Otago Community Trust may be able to help.





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