FRESH PERSPECTIVE

Whangārei Youth Space valued young people sharing their thoughts with us last week on Facebook by interacting with the youth week challenges.

It has been a challenging, rewarding and eye-opening experience for many young people, and I want to share some of their feelings.

Getting some of our young people's views on their experiences during lockdown and giving them a space to be able to share their voices showed them how valued they were.

It was a major impact on young people not being able to socialise, attend school or hang out with their friends.

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"For some young people, this unforeseen and rapid change in school life has presented opportunities. For some whānau and children, the transition back to school will be more difficult. Expect the unexpected, your calm response and delight at seeing everyone back and together again can make a significant difference." - Ministry of Educations advice to teachers.

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It has been highlighted that some rangatahi (youth) may have adjusted more easily to the lockdown phase than others. With the lack of accessibility to technology or internet access, it was troubling for those who weren't able to connect with their peers virtually.

Now we are stepping back into normality. Lucy, 19, "can't wait for things to go back to whatever normal looks like".

Lockdown had been the norm for a while. "I am nervous and have anxiety because I don't really know what's going to happen," but, with the assistance of Kath, kaimahi (staff worker) of WYS Start programme, she will be well supported.

We heard from young people what they would change about lockdown if they could and it was outstanding how many would change the amount of people allowed in their bubble to have grandparents, nieces and nephews to stay with them.

By moving into Covid-19 alert level 2 we hope they will have felt a sense of relief now they can reconnect with loved ones.

Whangārei Youth Space wants to be able to support all young people, especially those who may be struggling to adjust to this new normal.

WYS is not just a hangout space for young people in the afternoons, where you come for a feed, chill out, study or jam the game. WYS supports youth in a wide variety of ways, from onsite health services, to referrals to other services and providers, and employment opportunities.

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Moving forward, WYS will still be delivering these services but tweaking them to fit today's circumstances.

WYS will provide a snack pack to young people in the afternoons from 3pm-4.30pm in Cafler Park outside WYS to grab and go.

WYS will continue to support young people through the START Employment programme and, if you are wanting some extra support or mentoring, you can book in with one of the youth workers by emailing contact@youthspace.co.nz.

• Anahera Pickering is community outreach coordinator at Whangārei Youth Space. She can be contacted at Anahera@youthspace.co.nz.

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