Meet Jack and Ivy, Nayland's 2018 youth workers.
For the past five years Nayland College has been working in partnership with Annesbrook Church and the national 24-7 YouthWork program to bring us the caring people we know as youth workers. This year, we have Jack and Ivy - two young, fun-spirited individuals.
The support youth workers provide students is a middle ground between casual support from friends and more formal support from deans or counsellors. "The youth workers are an extra point of contact for students at Nayland College. They are strong role models who focus on forming positive relationships," Aquila house dean Mrs Cameron explained.
Students can approach Jack and Ivy for pretty much anything. "It can be for total different reasons. Like it can range from behavioural issues to just someone having an off day and wanting someone to vent to," Ivy said. "It’s basically being a mentor and support for students, but less academic - more mentally, emotionally, socially. It’s mainly to be just another friend, someone they’re comfortable with."
"It could go to the extent of people who have a bit of a troubled home life, but whatever it is, we support people aren’t truly being themselves or being who they want to be," Jack said.
The ability to engage and connect with youth is obviously vital to the job. However, we students aren't always the most welcoming to people trying to help us. Fortunately, former Waimea College student Jack is familiar with this kind of attitude.
"When I was at school, my friend group probably wasn’t full of the best people I could be around," he said. "My friends and I, we would actually kinda rip-out the youth workers at Waimea. Just being like ‘oh man, what are they doing, they think they’re so great, you know, it wasn’t anything heavy, just us trying to act cool. It’s just real ironic now, me ending up as [a youth worker]."
But the youth workers are able to break down these sorts of barriers quickly. “Obviously when you first meet someone, they’re like ‘who the heck are you? Why’s this guy with a badge on coming into my class and talking to me?’” Jack said. “But as a relationship builds it’s more like ‘Sup, Jack’ and you can tell that they appreciate that someone is there to talk to and look out for them. With guys, you know, they won’t be like ‘aw thank you so much’, but you can tell that they appreciate it”.
Ivy is at school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Jack on Wednesday lunch break, Thursdays and Fridays. If you think you'd like to meet Jack or Ivy, look for them around school, or speak with your dean. They usually each hang out around the school and in different classrooms, looking for people who want their company.
The 24-7 youth workers are all trained in what they do, though the passion for helping people has to come naturally. “You just have to have heart basically. You need to be able to relate to other people,” Ivy said. “Oh, and you have to be really good at just being awkward, because there’s a lot of going up to people and introducing yourself, so you have to be okay with awkward situations. You gotta be okay with making a doofus out of yourself.”
If you'd like to know more about the 24-7 YouthWorker program, go to http://www.24-7youthwork.nz/