• Richard Hills

Let's celebrate young people

On top of council work this month, I had the privilege to attend many events to support and celebrate young people in our community. I would like to acknowledge all the organisations and our schools that help empower and inspire children and young people across the Shore. 

I was the MC at the recent Graeme Dingle Foundation Excellence Awards. This incredible and inspirational evening recognised young people for their work, dedication, and personal success. The foundation works to empower young people to overcome obstacles by growing their confidence. I was particularly awed by the young man who won the Kiwi Tahi Achievement award. Many men in his family have been to prison yet, at just 11 years old, he spoke with strength and courage about his own future and the leader he wants to be. 

Breathing Space is a local initiative with similar goals. Asha Munn and Amber Walls of the Creative Collaborative Co. use art therapy to support youth struggling with school, mental health, isolation, relationships, or negative patterns of behaviour. I was thrilled to attend the art installation at the Kaipatiki Youth Hub at Marlborough Park and see the passion, creativity, and storytelling from young people.

I often go and check out the considerable work happening at the Kaipatiki Youth Hub by Peter Wolf and the team Kaipatiki Youth Development Trust, and the Jobs4Youth programme run by Sonia Nerheny, the Youth Navigator at the Kaipatiki Community Facilities Trust. Young people at the hub gain the support they need and their first foot in the door to the workforce.

The Kaipatiki Youth Hub opened two years ago and is one of my proudest achievements as an elected member. After many years of hard work, the upgraded Marlborough Hall is now a thriving space for young people, which is what myself, Jill Nerheny, and other key partners always envisioned.

Just down the road, Melanie Barr and the Shore Junction team are fundraising for the new youth innovation hub. Mel works closely with Younite to ensure young people are involved at each and every stage of this exciting new venture. Younite also invited me along to their workshop to help shape Takapuna’s future based on the ideas of young people. I was inspired by what I heard.

Sonia Thursby - a key player in the initiation of Shore Junction - is also CEO of YES Disability and led the YES 15 year anniversary celebration last month. The staff at YES work hard to ensure that young people with disabilities are represented across society – at home, at work, everywhere. I was glad I could be with them to congratulate them.

The Whanāu Awards evening at Glenfield College recognise Māori achievement across the school community. I was particularly proud to speak about my time at Glenfield College and encourage the students to believe in themselves and aim to achieve whatever hopes and dreams they have for the future. 

This is just a peek into the work that goes on in our neighbourhood each and every week and, from where I stand, I believe investing in young people and celebrating their achievements is the best thing we can do to for the future of the Shore and Auckland.