Lives changed as gardens grow

YouthGrow is one of our Family Works programmes in Dunedin. They provide an environment where young people grow and learn, based in a working nursery.

YouthGrow was established at their North East Valley (Dunedin) site in 2001, as a response to the identified need that young men had challenges getting a job.

Over this time YouthGrow’s heart for impacting youth positively has remained the same. The way YouthGrow works with young people has broadened and changed.

Youth development models have been used in recent years, with the aim of developing the whole person, providing opportunities to strengthen education, life skills, health and wellbeing, and vocation-focused learning.

Over 200 young people have participated in YouthGrow since it opened. Their stories demonstrate the success of this important programme.

It is evident from talking to students that YouthGrow is not just about learning a few gardening skills. In fact, gardening is just one tool to help with learning.

Hannah is a current YouthGrow student. She has been involved for just over a year and her goal has been to get paid employment.

You soon get an appreciation for the real sense of achievement for Hannah, which comes from being part of YouthGrow.

“This year a group of us built a small table with some help from staff. We had to research and plan it, then make decisions about things like what type of wood to use. Once we gathered all the materials we put the table together.”

“Some parts of the table had to be redone a few times, because they weren’t quite right. The challenge was to make sure I didn’t get frustrated when that happened.”

The table now is proudly placed in the student’s area. It’s used by students each week as they study, and work through completing the various assessments they are encouraged to do.

Friday lunch is always a learning opportunity for the YouthGrow students.

“One of the highlights is cooking lunch each Friday. We do this in groups, and we have to plan our meal, go shopping for the ingredients and then cook it in time for lunch.”

Through working alongside the YouthGrow team, and following a work placement at St Andrews Enliven Care Home, Hannah has recently gained the confidence and ability to get a paid casual job.

We want young people like Hannah to become confident and ready to take the next step in their journey. Every day at YouthGrow brings new growth experiences, as students are challenged to learn and to tackle new things.

If you would like to support our young people at YouthGrow visit the nursery at Norwood St, or see them at the Otago Farmers Market each Saturday morning.