Grassroots Resilience - Rangatahi Style
Recently week we were invited to share kai with Whānau Ora Resilience Navigator Eileen Eriha and to hear about the awesome work she is involved in with rangatahi in Seddon.
The group formed after the earthquakes in the Awatere Valley to help build resilience and bring the young people together in the community. They started meeting once a fortnight but the group grew very quickly so they now meet every Friday night to connect, share ideas and have fun! Eileen says “We were fortunate to be able to gain funding for another leader, Maxine Sweeney. We approached the Marlborough Youth Trust who acknowledged the great work she was doing and have given us funding to make her role a paid position too”.
Tragically the community lost a couple of their young people to suicide. The rangatahi were determined to create more awareness around mental health and respond by developing more for youth to do, and ways to connect with each other. They were inspired by concepts developed by a Whānau Ora initiative ‘Te Ha o Ngā Rangatahi’ which some of the group were also involved in. This initiative is rangatahi lead and is focussed on rangatahi and wider whānau voice as a means to prevent suicide and also to wrap arms around the youth impacted by suicide.
The group holds regular sessions at their youth group with professional speakers who share information and ideas on how to be more resilient and where to go for help. It was from there that they decided to start fund-raising for more activities in their community for youth and to raise the awareness around mental health at the same time.
The forum quickly gained the support from community groups and business people alike in the community. Dr. Lorr Eade, Westpac’s Southern Business Development Manager along with major supporters, the Awatere Community Trust Board helped the group to bring John Kirwan to town to host a community event at the Ukaipo Rangitane Cultural Centre.
With donations of kai pouring in and other goods, they were able to put on a three course meal and hold a silent auction which was a wonderful part of the night. Seeing JK going home with an Offal Pit made everyone laugh and they’re sure he’s now wondering what to do with it!
Using their funds raised, the group are involved in a project to build a pump track on land which the council is giving them access to. Local businesses are getting right behind their idea with Peter Yealands and Renner Fencing donating planting and fencing to build up the area.
This is a story of collaboration, collectivism, and hope that is evidenced by what the Seddon Youth Group have achieved in a short time for themselves, and the wider community. When our youth are enabled to dream big the possibilities are endless!