Keeping youth engaged during COVID

[supplied by NIAA]

Showing their dance moves during lockdown. (Photos courtesy of NPY Women’s Council)

The Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council (NPY WC) recently organised a range of activities for young people living in a COVID-19 remote biosecurity region.

The activities kept the young people active and connected during lockdown and were funded through the COVID-19 Safe Youth Services Program.

Christine Williamson is the Youth Service Manager of NPY WC.

‘Most of our staff were able to remain in the communities. We also went online, by mail, phone and even via TV to respond to youth and their families’ needs during COVID-19,’ Christine said.

The activities covered a wide array of needs.

A dance and ‘footy trick shot’ competition was featured on TikTok and Facebook. The competition was well received by the youth participants and the wider public. Some social media postings of the dance competition received over 56,000 ‘likes’.

Activity packs containing recipes, food ingredients, art materials and hair colour were given to local youth to continue their learning about cooking and nutrition. The Youth Program workers noticed that families supported their children to cook thanks to these packs, and the activities were so popular that many families requested more.

Older youth who were worried about losing their fitness for the football season were provided with an exercise training program. The program was translated into Pitjantjatjara, turned into a video and shared across the NPY Lands.

The Youth Program also found suitable locations in communities for boarders. This allowed students to continue their education remotely. The Program worked with a range of agencies and NGOs on the ground to achieve this.

Students were set up with learning spaces in schools, art centres and offices across the region. A partnership between NPY WC and schools provided students with computers and internet.

NPY WC Youth Service set up a partnership with ICTV. Together they hosted movie nights featuring NPY WC footage and films from the archive. The first live stream on social media received almost 2,000 views.

NPY WC reported that the activities were very successful. They brought about deeper engagement with communities, including people who weren’t involved with the program before.

 ‘The creative response through our programming has really opened us up to new possibilities,’ she said.

‘[We saw] communities we do not normally service, families and youth, including those with disabilities.’

Youth workers found that families became more supportive of delivering activities in their homes. Young people also showed resilience in making their own fun.

‘Many people have told me that they feel inspired by what we have done. I am so proud of the team,’ Christine said.

NPY WC will maintain this support after the pandemic. They will continue to use parts of their COVID-19 Safe Youth programming into the future.

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