Guest post: Eleanor Hurton @ the Codesign for Youth Wellbeing Symposium

This is a guest post from Eleanor Hurton who attended the Co-design for Youth Wellbeing Symposium in September.
It’s also a shout-out to the Shuttleworth Foundation, which supported the Symposium with a one-off, no-strings-attached grant. When we received an email earlier this year offering us a no-strings attached grant, we assumed it must be a scam. But no, it was a genuine grant to enable us to further open source what we’ve learned in the last four years.
The Co-design Symposium was our response – an opportunity to share the kaupapa of youth co-design with a diverse audience from around Aotearoa New Zealand.
From everybody who attended the Symposium – thank you to the Shuttleworth Foundation. We love your high-trust approach and we thank you for your support!

I had the incredible opportunity to attend Lifehack’s ‘Co-design for Youth Wellbeing Symposium’ in Wellington on Monday 4th September. I went to this symposium representing Bounce, a Red Cross youth well-being project driven by young people in Christchurch. As a Bounce youth ambassador my aim is to empower young people to increase their well-being and resilience.
When I arrived at Massey University I was buzzing with anticipation! At the start there were a couple of performances by Ormiston Junior College that gave us insights into bullying from a deaf perspective, as well as showing us the challenges of having a “teenage brain”. It was clear that these students had put a lot of effort into their performances and I am super proud of what they achieved and they should be thrilled with their work!

Throughout the day we experienced many different perspectives on co-design for youth wellbeing and I honestly believe that this diversity was a key reason the event was such a success! What I learned was that when people from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences come together to work on a common goal the results are amazing, and I am so glad I got to be a part of that.
I was excited that this symposium offered me the opportunity to choose some of the talks that I got to attend, so I could gather information that would be the most helpful for Bounce. I went to the “bus stops” I chose which included “The ethics of co-design practice” held by Jane Zintl from Ara Taiohi, and “Storytelling for impact and co-creation” by Alex Whitcombe from Healthy families. Jane discussed boundaries and self-care, and we also looked at how to address our own biases and perspectives when working with young people, and deciding whether to support a young person’s initiative. Alex used a ‘Walk-thru’ to show how this fast-paced concept could be used to increase the impact of an idea, and facilitate change. Both of these bus stops were effectively run and thought out, giving me a lot of excellent
information to bring back to Christchurch.
"When people from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences come together to work on a common goal the results are amazing"
We also had the opportunity to attend “action stories” in the second half of the symposium. It was awesome to hear from Rod Baxter and Bilal Nasier from Red Cross. It was fun to connect with these two enthusiastic men, and I got to learn a lot more about how Red Cross operates in the rest of New Zealand. Rod has been working with Bounce for a while, so it was great we finally got to meet! In their action story, they shared the impact Red Cross is having on young refugees, and Bilal a refugee himself, explained his work as a youth worker for young refugees.

It was also cool to hear from Regan Burt and Liss Wheeler from ‘Paired Up’ an initiative that aims to support young people with mental illness through various platforms, including online and face to face. This action story was particularly useful to me as Bounce also uses online platforms to reach people, and it was interesting to see the tools that Paired Up were using.

Hannah Dunlop (ECAN) and Sarah Finlay-Robinson (WelTec)

However, the absolute highlight of the day for me was the clinics. I opted to attend the 3rd clinic “Growing the conditions for youth wellbeing, positive youth development and co-design” hosted by Hannah Dunlop (ECAN) and Sarah Finlay-Robinson (WelTec). This clinic allowed me to work alongside other passionate people from all around New Zealand to come up with a plan to make a difference for young people. This was particularly incredible to experience because it showed me the importance of collaboration, and how powerful organisations can be when we work together.
It was a real eye-opener to be able to connect with so many game-changing individuals who are all passionate about co-design for youth wellbeing, and I made so many friends and connections that I have kept in contact with since the symposium.
I am studying human services and sociology at university, and I graduate in December. I hope to be able to work with young people in the future, and this event enabled me to upskill and gain more confidence in this area. I never realized how powerful co-design could be, but I will definitely use this in any future work that I do!
I want to give a massive shout out to Youth Voice Canterbury and Lifehack for enabling me to attend.
If you wish to find out more about the symposium click here as there were so many other amazing contributors!
Empowering young people to be able to create change is so important, so I would like to leave you with a quote by Nelson Rockefeller, “It is essential that we enable young people to see themselves as participants in one of the most exciting eras in history, and to have a sense of purpose in relation to it.”
“It is essential that we enable young people to see themselves as participants in one of the most exciting eras in history, and to have a sense of purpose in relation to it.”

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