Blessed with the best, I reckon. I wish you could all experience the places I work, being inspired by young people and allowed time in their life to make a positive impact. It's fuel for my soul.
What a blast it was last week, kicking back at the careers roadshow at high schools in Whangārei. I enjoyed getting out of the office and doing what I love best - talking - even luckier to be with a bunch of ready, willing, up-and-coming change-makers.
The careers roadshow is hosted in high schools for students to find pathways to further their education.
I was lucky to attend and be part of the kaupapa (programme). Capturing youth voice was the A-game for each day, connecting with youth to hear their thoughts on issues like housing insecurities, and their views on the impact of this world in 10 years, a whakapapa challenge, and other interactive ways to capture what's going on for our youth.
This was a jam-packed week involving young people from Year 9 up to Year 13. It was great to see everyone engaging with stalls, even if it was for the freebies.
• Northland students march for climate change action
• Kamo High students learn about aquaculture, science careers at Niwa
• Former Whangārei Boys' High School students return to build new school
A korero that really got my attention was with a group of girls whom I asked their perspective of the world in 10 years.
It was clear they were concerned about the impact on our environment of society's lack of interest and laziness.
I challenged them: "If the solution were getting rid of mobile devices, would you get rid of yours?" Their response was hesitant, with one girl saying under her breath, "I guess if it were to save the world, I would". Her friends then followed with the same response.
When thanking them for their time I encouraged them to think about the impact they can make today as individuals or as friends.
This is something we can all do - ask gnarly questions to encourage everyone to make a positive change.
I hope my question continued to be discussed, that the girls left and spoke with another friend and another and another and my question has produced a ripple effect.
Now I have no idea if mobile phones have anything to do with the impact on the environment. My question wasn't about that, it was to question that if we knew what was needed to save our environment would we do it.
Would we sacrifice our mobile device if it meant a better life for everyone or are we comfortable with how we are living?
When asking our young people their perspective of the world in the next 10 years, it would be fair to say if I had asked a different question such as, "what do you wish the world to be like in 10 years?", I may have received more positive feedback but in this instance I was overwhelmed by the gloomy "world is over" idea.
Technology advancement, impact of climate change and extra-terrestrial life were the major themes highlighted throughout the week.
As a country, I believe we are becoming more aware of how involved young people are in advocating for change.
Youth are becoming more environmentally friendly and raising awareness about climate change. It was two years ago that I walked alongside a group of future leaders joining "the march for climate change action" around Whangārei to raise awareness and battle climate change and the impact on the environment.
It was amazing to be participating in a group with other young people who want to encourage positive change for their generation and the rangatira to come.
Shaping future leaders is about creating pathways, providing opportunities and making space at the table for youth to have a say.
Jordyn graduated from Whangārei Boys' High School last year and now works part-time at Whangārei Youth Space as a youth worker intern.
Jordyn had been volunteering at the space for the past year, he said: "Never in my life did I think I'd be working at a place like WYS, or even be anywhere near the space a year ago".
Fortunately, I benefitted from Jordyn's experience and skills when engaging with his peers at the Careers Roadshow. He was quite anxious to engage with the boys and was excited to share with them the services WYS offers and how we can support them.
I saw in Jordyn a sense of pride and achievement while engaging with his old teachers, explaining to them where he worked and how he was doing since leaving school.
In Jordyn's words: "I honestly see this as the first steps for myself, by getting out into the community and giving those who need us the most a chance to approach us, with us approaching them first".
Let's try this out
If we make room for our youth to sit with us, let them make decisions alongside us, with their vision and drive and our knowledge and skills, we are mighty.
Wrapping it up I will use a quote by a student: "People our age are gonna start change".
Making space for the youth voice is beneficial for all, whether it is in your business or in the community. When trying to connect with youth make room and create a space so youth can help you make the most of today and the future.
• Anahera Pickering is community outreach coordinator at Whangārei Youth Space. She can be contacted at Anahera@youthspace.co.nz .