Youth engagement and participation are necessary to create a brighter future for our young tamariki.

While there are several different models of what youth participation looks like, the fundamentals are the same. By actively involving young people in decision-making processes and encouraging them to discuss both the issues that are affecting them and what’s important to them, tamariki learn they are valued in society and that their perspectives matter.

So, how exactly do we do that?

Empowerment

Self-empowerment enables tamariki and rangatahi to have greater control over their lives. It improves their relationships, both with others and with themselves. It allows them to manage difficult situations with confidence.

By giving them the freedom to express themselves, supporting their ideas and expression of emotions, and encouraging their passions, we show them that they have control over what they do. Thereby teaching them that they can change the outcome of their lives.

Purposeful engagement

Purposeful engagement allows rangatahi to address issues that are relevant to them, speak up about what they value, and find purpose in their voice and actions. It allows them to influence real outcomes and improve their skills.

This could look like engaging in school, joining a sports team, or even just participating in meaningful koreros with their whanau.

Inclusiveness

In ensuring all young people are able to participate, it creates a feeling of belonging. With many of our children in care, a sense of belonging is often lacking. By encouraging them to participate, it can create a feeling of inclusiveness and enhance their overall wellbeing.

Embodying the principles of whanaungatanga and creating community connections can ensure that our tamariki and rangatahi feel loved, supported, and included.

Youth engagement and participation are vital for any young person, but particularly for our rangatahi in care. By teaching them self-empowerment, encouraging them to engage with what has meaning for them, and including them in the community, we can create positive, fulfilling outcomes for all our tamariki and rangatahi.