New focus goes on youth resilience

I have been involved in the social sector for about the last 23 years.

I started working with tamariki and whanau as youth worker, but over the past 10 years my focus has primarily been behind the scenes in the community development space.

This term, I had to brush off my youth worker skills and help with facilitating the Friends Resilience programmes.

I don’t mind admitting that I was very nervous; it had been such a long time since I had worked with tamariki in that age range.

About 65 tamariki have been taking part in either the Friends for Life (for ages 8-11) or the Fun Friends (for ages 4-7).

These programmes are being delivered in collaboration with school teaching staff, Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB), learning support co-ordinators and members of the Huanui team in three primary schools.

Programmes within the Friends suite are designed to build resilience.

They can support social and emotional development in children, teaching tamariki how to recognise and deal with big emotions by using positive thoughts and self-regulation strategies.

They also have a focus on problem-solving, dealing with stressful situations, developing step plans to achieve goals and practising kindness and empathy towards others.

It’s been such a privilege to get back to my roots, and I’ve loved every minute of being able to engage with the pupils and other facilitators.

The students have worked hard to learn some new concepts and strategies, such as what happens to our brains when we ‘‘flip our lids’’ — that the feeling brain takes over, which makes it hard for the thinking brain to make helpful choices.

They also learnt that we can manage that by recognising our feelings and putting strategies in place, such as bubble breathing or starfish breathing, to calm down before we flip our lids.

The programme delivery will take a break over the school holidays; we will finish delivery, including some booster sessions early next term.

We will also gather feedback, review and reflect on the results, and use this information to plan for 2023.