Positive youth development means ‘growing and developing the skills and connections young people need to take part in society and to reach their potential’ (http://www.myd.govt.nz). It’s a sector that’s incredibly exciting and expanding with a broad range of industry opportunities.
Studying youth development, within the Bachelor of Health and Social Development programme is a fulfilling way to advance an interest and enthusiasm for engaging with and supporting young people. The programme has been developed for people that see the importance of connecting with young people to navigate them through challenging times or supporting young people to connect with school, whanau, culture, sports, creative arts and peers.
Jo Maireroa always knew she wanted to work with children and young people, but it took her 12 years and a lot of personal sacrifice to get there. The mother of twin four-year-old boys and a 13-year-old girl, Jo completed a Bridgepoint Foundation course at Unitec in the first half of 2015 after spending 12 years working in the hospitality industry. She then moved on to study for a Bachelor of Health and Social Development majoring in Youth Development – something she’d wanted to do since leaving school at 16. She says the Bridgepoint course gave her the confidence she badly needed to return to study as a mature student and she also credits her family with supporting her emotionally through what has been a challenging time juggling motherhood and studies.
Up until February, Jo’s been working at her sons’ day care in Avondale and she’s also had casual work at Unitec as a E-Learning Support Student, assisting students to become familiar with online learning tools. She believes there are more barriers for students with children but as someone with years of life experience and deep pockets of support – as well as the drive to meet her goals – she says it’s easy to keep things in perspective.
Engaging in the Youth development major, within the BHSD programme, has enabled Jo to amalgamate her passion for working with and advocating for young people, raising her own children and the work she does in the community. The degree programme has provided a great balance of practicum experience in the youth development sector, and learning about the key theories and varying approaches that contribute to positive outcomes for young people in her community and Aotearoa.