A positive role
A youth worker for three years, Rose Newton has recently started at Marlborough Girls’ College and believes there is a need for a youth worker at all secondary schools.
How did you get involved as a youth worker and what attributes are important to the role?
I studied English and psychology at university because I love stories, and I love people. I found that the two combined in the role of youth worker in a fun, and natural way for me.There are so many different kinds of youth workers, but you need to be a good listener. You need to have a genuine heart for the students - they all feel like my little sisters.
Do you think the role can make a real difference in the lives of young people?
Yes I do. Many of us can look back and see significant role models and relationships that helped shape us positively, and encourage us toward success and healthy wellbeing. 24-7 puts these role models right in the middle of a high school so every young person can have access to this kind of mentoring relationship.
In my three years as a 24-7 Youth Worker at Nelson College for Girls, I have already seen some drastically positive changes in young women who still thank their youth workers for being part of saving their lives. It’s a wonderful privilege.
What pressures are the younger generation facing today?
I think the biggest pressure is around identity. There are so many people, organisations, media forms, and advertising strategies that suggest to young people that they cannot be ‘enough’ unless they conform to a certain standard.
If our young people knew who they were, and loved themselves as they are, many ‘youth issues’ would be solved. This is because young people would no longer feel the need to earn their worth through how they look, what they achieve, what they buy, what substances they take, etc.
Can social media make a positive difference or is it making daily life more difficult for young people?
Yes it can - but it is certainly an uphill battle. It’s the identity issue again. When young people know who they are, and love themselves, then social media has less power to tell them who they should be.
What is the one piece of advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
You are worthy of positive friendships, and you can choose your friends.
Do you believe there is a case for a youth worker to be available in every secondary school?
Absolutely! The beautiful thing about 24-7 Youth Work is that we are there to serve the needs of the school.
That can be one-to-one mentoring, field trip support, lunchtime events, leadership development, support groups, or anything else that sees the talents of the youth workers meet the needs of the students.
Your role sounds like a serious one, are there lighter moments?
Every day. I laugh with the students a lot. We shoot hoops at lunchtimes, we give out free stuff just because we love them.
We have fun together, even though I might be supporting them through something really tough.
Rose Newton is a youth worker at Marlborough Girls’ College and feels her role is making a positive difference.