Partnership with Foundation North to support Northland youth

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Partnership with Foundation North to support Northland youth

A five-year commitment by Foundation North into a Kaikohe-based organisation, ĀKAU, will help support the development of young people in the area who are not in education, employment or training (YNEET).

ĀKAU engages young people in the design of real projects in their community. It weaves together youth creativity, community and design to help youth discover their purpose while at the same time making their communities better places to live and more sustainable.

“This innovative programme is enabling young people to find pathways into further education and employment.” Foundation North Chief Executive Jennifer Gill says. “This is of real value given high rates of youth unemployment in the area.”

ĀKAU was founded by Ana Heremaia, an interior architect, Ruby Watson, an architectural designer and artist, and Felicity Brenchley, an architect.

“Our aim is to empower youth to achieve their full potential and create positive change in their own communities by engaging them in the design of real projects,” Ana Heremaia says.

“The programme also offers life skills, workplace experience, mentoring, and a support system. Our trainees will be encouraged to find their talents and passions and pursue these further.”

ĀKAU has been based in Kaikohe since 2014 , where they have engaged over 300 youth in real projects, such as the design of a local marae, the design and manufacture of a timber stool that has been sold around New Zealand, an outdoor living classroom and a campaign around women’s health and safety.

Learning opportunities range from two day workshops through to intensive six month programmes where youth gain an NCEA level 2 Foundation qualification.

Over the course of the five-year commitment from Foundation North, ĀKAU will engage 2800 youth in community projects, as well implementing innovative workshops for YNEETS, whānau and schools.

As a social enterprise they will also develop and implement real design and architecture projects through the commercial design studio.

Funding for ĀKAU comes from Foundation North’s Catalysts for Change programme, which provides multi-year funding to support new approaches to solve complex social issues. Catalysts for Change partners are also provided with organisational support through the Foundation’s Centre for Social Impact.

The Foundation will invest in supporting the programme through to 2021.

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