Youth want a voice

Li­ai­son worker aims to make it hap­pen

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Be­ing young is hard, some­thing Porirua’s new youth de­vel­op­ment co- or­di­na­tor re­mem­bers well.

Dee Hikario, 33, was hired in mid-June by Porirua City Coun­cil to be a li­ai­son be­tween the coun­cil and young peo­ple.

Her mis­sion is to give young peo­ple a voice and an iden­tity, some­thing she strug­gled to find as a teenager.

‘‘For me ado­les­cence was the hard­est time in my life. Deal­ing with my iden­tity, where I fit­ted in in the world, in my fam­ily, in the com­mu­nity,’’ she says.

‘‘Hav­ing a voice is one thing but be­ing proud makes you feel re­ally val­ued. It’s so im­por­tant that we value our young peo­ple be­cause, gosh, who are go­ing to be our next coun­cil­lors and may­ors?’’

Ms Hikario’s pri­mary task will be grow­ing and fa­cil­i­tat­ing Porirua’s Youth Ad­vi­sory Group (YAG), which en­gages with the coun­cil on is­sues af­fect­ing youth. The group is just find­ing its feet again af­ter floun­der­ing since April 2011 when the last youth de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer died sud­denly.

‘‘Be­cause this role hasn’t been filled for so long, it kind of feels like we’re start­ing all over again with YAG.’’

The group is in the mid­dle of a heavy re­cruit­ment drive and Ms Hikario hopes to grow its num­ber from six mem­bers to 18.

She has been im­pressed by mem­bers’ en­thu­si­asm and pas­sion.

‘‘I was re­ally blown away ac­tu­ally. It wasn’t what I ex­pected. It’s re­ally great to work with young peo­ple who are keen to have a voice and say what mat­ters to them,’’ she says.

‘‘They’re all from dif­fer­ent walks of life and have dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences, and I think that’s the key thing to ac­knowl­edge with our young peo­ple – they all ex­pe­ri­ence life dif­fer­ently but they still de­serve a voice in what’s hap­pen­ing to them in the city.’’

Ms Hikario grew up in Dunedin and has spent her whole ca­reer work­ing with youth. Af­ter high school she be­came heav­ily in­volved in kapa haka, tu­tor­ing and tour­ing with young per­form­ers. She was a sex­ual health ed­u­ca­tor in the Hutt for four years and last year was a care worker in a CYF group home.

The CYF job was emo­tion­ally drain­ing, so Ms Hikario jumped at the youth de­vel­op­ment role, which suited her – ‘‘pretty much to a tee, al­most like it was cre­ated for me’’, she says.

Young peo­ple aged 15 to 24 in­ter­ested in joint­ing YAG can con­tact Dee Hikario on 021 175 7616 or hhikario@pcc.govt.nz. Ap­pli­ca­tions close July 27.

Fu­ture stars: Porirua’s new youth de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Dee Hikario, right, aims to nur­ture Porirua’s fu­ture lead­ers by giv­ing them a voice and an iden­tity. She is with, from left, Porirua City coun­cil­lor Bron­wyn Kropp and Youth Ad­vi­sory Group mem­bers As­aph Verner, Aziel Verner, Nopera Den­nis-McCarthy and Jewelz Kilino.

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