An after-school creative space, the Ōtepoti Youth Space, is being launched in Dunedin. Focused on high-school aged rangatahi, the aim is to make this a supportive and constructive space to engage with rangatahi and “celebrate… their creative talents”.
Hailey Xavier, a student, was involved in coordinating the space along with local youth support groups and agencies. According to her, the project grew out of the Ōtepoti Youth Vision, a series of hui by the City Council, youth-focused organisations and young people to guide services for youth in Dunedin. The aim of the Ōtepoti Youth Vision is to ensure “young people are valued, accepted and empowered to lead fulfilled lives, and wellbeing is nurtured”.
Part of that was ensuring students had a safe space to go after school, said Hailey, “one that wasn’t the Bus Hub or Maccas”. That is where the Ōtepoti Youth Space comes in. Aside from being a space for kids to hang out, the Space also aims to provide “opportunities to explore their creative capabilities and reach out for well-being support”. There will be a range of “free facilitated workshops, as well as space to engage in independent activities from art to homework,” says Hayley. The really adventurous could even do their art homework there. The space will also have “youth mentors… for anyone who needs a friendly face to chat to”. Hayley hopes for more live events to happen at the Youth Space in future, including an art exhibition, open mic night, and live music.
It will run from May 8 - 21 in the Dunedin Community Gallery, at 20 Princess Street (just south of the Octagon). Although Ōtepoti Youth Vision hopes to eventually make the Youth Space a permanent one, limited funding means they can currently only have the space for two weeks. They hope that success will allow them to get more funding for this initiative – until then, it’s very much a game of wait and see.
And in case any of you are curious, this space is not just limited to school-aged kids; Hayley assured Critic Te Arohi that big Uni kids are welcome too! It’ll probably be a more wholesome environment to hang out and procrastinate than your cold flat anyway. If you want to know more, Ōtepoti Youth Space are on Facebook and Instagram.