A pos­i­tive role

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

PHOTO: PAULA HULBURT/STUFF

Rose New­ton is a youth worker at Marl­bor­ough Girls’ Col­lege and feels her role is mak­ing a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence.

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