It's mighty how powerful whakaaro (talking) is and the ability to be able to plant seeds and tools/skills with rangatahi to help them build resilience, confidence and understanding.
Being trusted to share the youth voice is crucial to me. I understand what it's like to be given a space to just share and how important it is to start having open conversations with other people.
These school holidays will see some young people enjoying their favourite things like kicking back, playing video games, sleep, family, and friends and the Whangārei Youth Space Break Away Holiday Programme.
Recognising how important it is for all of us to be able to spend quality time with our family and friends, it can be difficult for us to share what is going on in our worlds, especially as young people are still finding their voice.
I asked some young people, "What do you think adults just don't get about young people?" They replied, "Everything." As I dug a little deeper, here's what they shared. "School and just talking in general because I don't get my words right," "what I'm going through", "suicide and depression". This hit home aye, like preach!
Young people want to talk but find it hard.
What can help, though, is when young people have a relationship that is built on trust and respect. Why? Because then they feel more comfortable to open up and talk, from their perspective.
Here's how: "Be open about what goes through a teenager's brain". "Don't be judgmental", "don't give lectures", "be understanding", "actually listen, don't condescend to us and look at us like we are crazy or weird".
Something that may help the next time you talk with a young person is to consider this, "it makes me more comfortable to talk to adults when I have a support homie with me". Dang, I definitely think that might have helped me.
Acknowledge that "young people can be stressed as well", "the education system is different from when they went to school!" "We try and they don't need to critique what we do", "we all make mistakes, and you need to understand we are still growing and learning, no one's perfect". "We are young and learning and we are gonna stuff up, but we are learning."
Our young people are sharing taonga with you to help you gain some insight on what may help, so here's some tips from the youth I spoke with:
"Give your kids space when they need it (and ask for it) but be there when they need it", "there are things we don't need to tell you".
Respecting privacy is so important as it builds trust in your relationship. Set boundaries and mutual understandings and talk about it, do not shout or scream about it.
"Don't be sarcastic that we are actually doing something when we do stuff, just because we don't do it when you ask." "Make time to understand how your child thinks." "Adults need to hear our point of view on things. Let teens/children come to you."
Respect looks different to everyone, manaakitanga (looking after one another), this is what the youth voice sounds like: "feeds, food is always good", "giving everyone a chance", "not being judgmental towards others", "being heard", "listening", "treating others how you want to be treated", "showing kindness and of course caring".
"Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti aroha o tatou mahi", which means "let the uniqueness of the child guide our work".
• Anahera Pickering is community outreach co-ordinator at Whangārei Youth Space. She can be contacted at Anahera@youthspace.co.nz