Youth clubs and my younger self's experiences
Growing up in a community that values connection and lifelong learning was a stroke of luck. The youth clubs held at our local community centres played a crucial role in uniting children and young adults from diverse backgrounds and ages to learn, create, and perform together. These clubs were an indispensable part of our neighbourhood and left an indelible impression on me.
A unique aspect of our clubs was the involvement of older kids, like university students and young school teachers, who volunteered their weekend time to teach and mentor younger members. This intergenerational exchange fostered a sense of camaraderie and respect as the young adults demonstrated resilience, purpose, and a solid commitment to fostering the common good within the heart of the community.
During my early teenage years, I struggled with math. The mere thought of algebraic equations and fractions would make me feel anxious. However, I found solace in my weekly math tutoring sessions at the youth club. With the help of a dedicated volunteer tutor, my confidence grew, and my grades improved significantly. Many of my friends experienced similar academic growth, and we benefited from this gift by the volunteers not only financially but also in terms of instilling a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility. Most importantly, it provided a safe and happy place to be creative and explore, which we looked forward to every week.
The place was a hub of creative expression where children and young adults could engage in performance art, like singing and theatre. These activities not only build confidence but also nurtured a sense of belonging and unity among participants. Under the guidance of the older mentors, we learned that nothing was too hard to achieve when we worked together and believed in our collective potential.
The support of elders in the community was invaluable, as they often provided food and other resources for events, creating a warm and welcoming environment for all. This intergenerational collaboration cultivated a shared sense of responsibility, as everyone played a role in the growth and success of the clubs.
Drawing inspiration from this personal experience, we can envision a future where communities across New Zealand embrace the power of such clubs and intergenerational mentorship to address the pressing issues of teenage truancy, boredom, and gang affiliation. By fostering creativity, resilience, and a sense of purpose among our young Kiwis, we can create a supportive environment that empowers them to thrive and contribute positively to society.
Imagine a nationwide network of youth such clubs in New Zealand where university students and community elders collaborate to mentor and inspire younger generations, providing them with the tools and guidance they need to resist the allure of truancy and gang affiliation. These clubs could offer an array of creative and educational activities, from performance art to collaborative projects that tackle real-world challenges.
As we envision a future where youth clubs have fully realised their potential, we see a community transformed.
Imagine our neighborhoods filled with confident, educated, and skilled young people, ready to tackle the challenges that life throws their way. I guess we will then witness a more cohesive society where people from diverse backgrounds come together, working towards common goals and celebrating shared successes - can this be only a dream?