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Building confident young leaders in the community.

In 2011, RASNZ established its Refugee Youth Action Network (RYAN); a unique refugee-led community-based service to support young people in Auckland from refugee backgrounds.

Focusing on empowerment, engagement, education and employment, RYAN's programmes have supported hundreds of refugee youth to embrace and celebrate their cultural diversity, and to feel confident about their place in New Zealand.

Now called RASNZ Youth, they successfully applied for Grassroots Giving funding in 2017 to run a Refugee Youth Leadership Forum.

Designed and co-facilitated by young people from within RASNZ Youth, the purpose of the three-day forum was to bring together young refugee-background leaders aged 18-25 who had been identified and nominated by their communities.

Thanks to the grant, the forum was held this July - with great success.

Through interactive workshops focusing on communication, public speaking and teamwork, the 30 participants left with the knowledge, skills and confidence to become advocates for themselves and their communities.

Feedback from attendees was highly positive, with many of the young people reporting a greater sense of self-confidence, improved ability to work as part of a team, and a clear sense of belonging.

One young female attendee in her early 20s reported:

"Because of the challenges my family has faced, I never really got to be a teenager – I went straight from childhood to being an adult. But for the last three days, I got to be a teenager, surrounded by other young people who understood me and who I felt completely comfortable with. We learned a lot, but we also danced and had so much fun together!"

RASNZ Youth are now looking to build on the success of its first forum and make it an annual event, attended each year by a new group of refugee background youth, but supported and co-facilitated by previous forum attendees.

Photo supplied by RASNZ.