The Pacific Like Minds, Likes Mine Project - Youth Event
Monday 24 March 2016 Vaka Tautua | News item
Our youth event in March kicked off with a wonderfully supportive and encouraging vibe. The event was intimate, engaging, humorous and just fun! One provider who brought youth along said he was so impressed with his group's willingness to interact, listen and participate in the evaluations - as with past events a lot of them would disengage and just hang outside the premise, not wanting to be there.
These are the positive outcomes of youth workshops. When they are done in communities it allows better accessibility for the public to come along and learn about services available to them and their families. When talking to a young girl who attended, she spoke of how she didn't even know these services were out there and said she'd never go out and seek them or walk into an office or workshop like this specifically for youth, so this was a great way to find out where if her or her friends were ever needing help.
Here’s some feedback from the leader of our Like Minds, Like Mine Project, Susanne Cummings –
On arrival there was a DJ playing upbeat music which eased any feelings of awkwardness or anxiety. I noticed this as a group of young people come in and sat inside in a group of chairs located in the middle of the venue. They all started to take off their big warm jackets and straight away they were engaged - not looking down at their cellphones! They were actually watching and listening to the providers and guest speakers. I took the mic and started by sharing my journey. I talked about my lived experience with mental illness/distress and about the aims of this event and our expectations.
It was great to hear the personal introductions from the Like Minds, Like Minds Project (LMLM) team. The LMLM staff were dressed in their blue branded t shirts and the colour association with the LMLM branding and banner really was effective. Youth were encouraged to approach anyone wearing blue and were told not to be shy as all wearing these t shirts have a lived experience of mental illness/distress. In our debrief back at the office Patricia and Pru said they received feedback from the youth that their introduction opened up their interest and curiosity and as a result the youth were empowered to ask exactly what stigma was. Our team said that doing the evaluations with the youth was enjoyable and they were inquisitive, asking heaps of questions.
The event was held at the Trades Commerce building with their students studying the NZ Certificate in Hospitality and National certificate in Employment provided catering services. Youth providing the catering helped to reinforce a more relaxed and youth focused vibe. Many of these students said they really enjoyed this work experience and would love to do a similar event with youth focused workshops in Kapiti and they would tell all their friends to come to any future events.
The providers in attendance really resonated with youth and spoke of their personal life experiences from a youth perspective. Chris Te'o from the Cancer Society gave a really great presentation and opened up the floor talking to youth about his father who was diagnosed with cancer and passed away three weeks after being given a diagnosis. Chris encouraged youth to approach his booth for any information that could help support them with any similar issues and he talked about the importance of health checks and being proactive when it comes to seeing the doctor.
Taima Fagaloa from the Capital and Coast District Health board shared a very inspiring story about how she had left school unsure what to do with her life. She then started studying as an older person to complete a degree, and she talked about the role of her job at the Health Board. I thought the providers that spoke made it easier for youth to relate and engage.
I had the opportunity to meet Felicia Manase who works for Emerge Trust and has Cerebral Palsy. She is of Samoan and Tuvaluan descent and is a spokesperson for disability. She shared that her philosophy is to live life without limitations. She walks the talk and shared that one of her biggest achievements is being the first Pacific person with a disability to complete the New York Marathon. She is actively involved in exercise and does cross-fit and provides a healthy input to the Vaka Tautua Porirua staff as she works from our office one day a week. I was so inspired and have such admiration for her courage in public speaking and for what she's achieved during her lifetime. She said she was nervous but received a lot of support from everyone there who clapped after she spoke.
The collaborations with other Pacific and Maori service providers really strengthened the event and I think we have found the correct formula when it comes to hosting future events.