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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:
Te Aroha Noa
In 2011 in response to increasing concern from local agencies about the large number of teenagers not attending school, Te Aroha Noa started two groups – He Ngakau Noa (‘Warm Heart’) for girls and He Ngakau Toa (‘Heart of a Warrior’) for boys. Child, Youth and Family (CYF) have provided the funding for these programmes.
Theresa has coordinated He Ngakau Noa from its beginnings.
Right now correspondence school work is a major focus. Encouraging the young people to set goals has always been important. “I always say to them ‘the benefit is not an option’. They need to be studying.” Both groups are achieving NCEA credits. But initially Theresa explains it began “with getting them out of the house.” Many were relied on heavily for babysitting or household duties and had become de-motivated. “They thought ‘what is there to get out of bed for’ because nothing was really happening.” They seemed to have left school over a clash of rules or personalities. “But when they had wanted to go back, there had been no-one to help negotiate their return.” Often they hadn’t learnt good conflict resolution skills at home. “What they needed was a mentor – until they learnt how to build those bridges themselves.”
“That’s why we work really hard to behave like a family. We’ve modelled what a great family would look like and how we would work through anger and still love each other.” One of their guiding principles is to always put the “young people at the forefront of all decisions – to be always thinking of their needs. It’s something we need to encourage the young people to do too, because sometimes they need to put themselves first a little bit over their family’s’ needs, to ensure they don’t miss out on experiences they deserve.”
“There’s never one thing that helps a young person. It’s about always being there, building a relationship and having empathy with them. Love is our driving force, and it’s also about holding positive expectations too, because you can see that goodness in them and hold it for them until they can see it themselves.”“We try to always be open and welcoming to them and to live out our name (‘Warm Heart’)”. Theresa hopes that by providing “even a little snippet of what a good family could be like” the young people will be able to choose more positive options/behaviours in the future.
Resilience Research Centre NZ - Youth Research Site 2013