Youth Space hosted a workshop earlier this week to capture young people's ideas around how to make Whangārei an even better place for young people.

A constant theme I've seen during my years of participating in workshops, working with young people and engaging with the wider youth community is wanting to connect more with the community, engaging more with other young people, having more things to be able to do and stable living.

Equity was highlighted in every aspect of the workshop. With everything going on in the world and with access to internet, the Black Lives Matter movement has filled our social media, causing young people to want to become more aware of the injustices that occur in our own backyard.

When the young people were asked, "What could you do to change the community" a strong theme of supporting and helping those in need was constantly portrayed.

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We had a discussion on what makes them feel more connected and involved in our community, considering these young people are not connected to or participate in sports, arts or religious groups.

Participating in events such as Guy Fawkes, Pasifika and Christmas in the Park enable young people to be able to engage and see the wider community. The vibe of a community gathering excites them, as long as there is music, good food and prizes/give aways, youth will be there!

Being involved in youth groups, services or programmes can have a positive impact on young people, because they can engage with others, be well supported and become more aware of the support within the community.

Participating in events such as Guy Fawkes, Pasifika and Christmas in the Park enable young people to be able to engage and see the wider community. Photo / File
Participating in events such as Guy Fawkes, Pasifika and Christmas in the Park enable young people to be able to engage and see the wider community. Photo / File

There are many barriers young people face with engaging or participating in community events, workshops and volunteering such as lack of transport or lack of support from whanau to participate in activities that aren't familiar to them.

Money is also a significant barrier and can disadvantage some young people to get involved in local events or activities that may be beneficial for them and their development.

On the flip side, young people have also highlighted a lot off issues they see and are impacted by in Whangārei such as poverty, racism, littering, bullying, housing and employment. This is commonsense stuff that young people want to be able to address to make an impact towards positive change.

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In consideration of the feedback gathered around what could make Whangārei an even better place, Whangārei Youth Space is really keen to be able to support young people and listen more effectively to create solutions and support their ideas.

WYS will be engaging more in the community at local events, going around to different communities and hosting workshops similar to this to connect with more young people to capture their voice and action meaningful change.

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