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The Study In Action
The Transitions Study started interviews for this research. This involved three structured interviews and three qualitative interviews with each young person, and interviews with a person they considered most knowledgeable about them (PMK).
Several organisations took on the challenge of becoming involved in this exciting youth research programme and they are now keen to share their experiences as part of recognising the huge contribution youth made to the study and also to encourage other organisations that work with youth to consider becoming involved in research in the future.
The organisations who have participated in these reflections are:
Palmerston North Researchers
Kimberley came into the study in 2012 and has had a variety of roles, including interviewing young people. “I’m thoroughly enjoying it” she says “especially being able to just talk to them.”
What’s amazing is the “sheer volume of choice the young people are having to make. And they are real future determining choices.” For example sometimes a young person was expelled from school and “had to make a decision to go back or not.” That can be a “huge battle – getting back into school, and at the time it can seem easier not to. But it affects their entire future.”
It seemed to Kimberley a lot of the young people felt unsupported. It was “almost a sense of isolation, as if there’s this huge world out there and then there’s me.” But what was “really cool to see” was a lot of the young people were determined to make it on their own. “That’s takes a lot of courage. Yet they were excited about being able to do it. It makes you excited.”
Having that hope that things can be different is one of the most important factors Kimberley believes. “A lot of them had really big dreams. It was awesome to see.” Another key factor she believes is “feeling important to somebody.” “That’s a huge part of being able to be successful – feeling appreciated and having the confidence to know you are important as a person.” That’s why mentors are so important. “With a teacher or a parent there’s a lot of power involved. Almost sub-consciously a young person is thinking ‘I can’t say anything here, because what will they think of me’. When you’ve got a mentor – you’re on par. That’s really important – to have a relationship where you are an equal but there’s also mutual respect.”
Often Kimberley felt what the young people needed most was “gentle guidance” earlier on in their lives, rather than when problems escalated. By then the focus was on the “crisis rather than what caused it.” That “gentle guidance” is really a fair acknowledgement that young people are developing their sense of judgement and “can’t do it all” at their age, but deserve respect and to be listened to.
Catching up with her interviewees again this year is something Kimberley is looking forward to. She’s grateful to the study for all the things she has learnt – not the least being – “it’s made me realise I have to make the most of what I have.”
Resilience Research Centre NZ - Youth Research Site 2013