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Meet the family: Dooley, Kāpiti Manager

As the opening of our new Kāpiti centre gets closer and closer, we had a chat to Dooley (apparently his real name is David) about youth work, building and motorbikes. Have a read below!

How did you first get involved with Zeal?

Dooley: Other than a brief encounter with a young Brook Turner in his boy band phase, my first encounter with Zeal was a show in Wellington I somehow ended up at with some mates. It was a good ten years later that Zeal came back on my radar with the Youth Development Centre here in Kāpiti, after my study years with Praxis.

How does your typical day at Zeal usually go down?

Dooley: A typical day at Zeal is an anomaly currently, but is sure to include answering way too many emails, phone calls, and questions around when our centre is open (end of June). Meeting with my interns (I have 4 currently), dropping in on one of the many programmes we already run – my favourite being the Barista course to do some quality control checks (drink coffee), catching up with some of our key volunteers, planning future events, and generally working on future projects trying to squeeze out every ounce of youth development possible.

How has the build for the Kāpiti building been going? When is it opening officially?

Dooley: The Kāpiti build has been a huge project spanning back a number of years – with the local Youth Council getting the ball rolling long before Zeal became involved. As a part of my role, I am project managing the centre build with some help from some key volunteers in Kāpiti. The actual building is shaping up very well, and on track to open at the end of June. The challenge really is finding the right people, and setting up the right programs for the local area.
We are all super excited to finally be able to get into the space that has been a 3 year project here for the Kāpiti team! We have a public open day 7th July 12-4pm (you can bring ya mum), with our first free gig on that night from 7pm (maybe leave mum at home for that bit)!

What are your plans for the new building over the next year?

Dooley: Plans for the new building are all hinged around giving young people in Kāpiti a platform and support to pursue their creative passions. On the music side, with some epic talent in the area and some amazing local music schools (House of Sound, AJ Crawshaw Music, Devon Welch Music) there will finally be a top level gig space for under 18s, as well as 2 band rehearsal studios upstairs that won’t bother your neighbours!
The Creative Design Studio in the building will be used for photo and video content editing as well as digital design and anything else computer based. The Creative Workshop at one end of the building aims to give space for any art projects that may get a bit messy. In a nutshell, my job is to make this building come alive with the energy of young people here!

What do you do in your spare time?

Dooley: Spare time… Haven’t had any of that in a while! I try and cram in a gym session where I can, or visit my family (I have a wife and 2 kids somewhere…). Nah – I do really try and keep a good tension in life between work-family-personal time, and although this has been a very busy season, my favourite things to do in spare time often include my kids. In my other spare time I take my gun for a walk in the Tararuas, or daydream about riding motorbikes again.

What are some epic moments you’ve had during your time at Zeal?

Dooley: My favourite epic moments at Zeal are seeing a young person become passionate about something. Often the events we do can seem like the big thing, but it is the behind the scenes work that really changes a young person and sets them up for a better future. I’m currently sitting in my office with Hannah (a 17 year old in our volunteer crew) who is working on our next Musician’s Lounge event. She came along to Zeal through our Gateway Event Management course, and is currently buzzing on planning out future events. My other favourite thing is seeing staff and interns supporting young people and being there in the hard times.

What’s some advice you would pass on to someone wanting to work with youth?

Dooley: If you want to work with youth, be open to learning from them. Listen more than you talk. Be honest with life and the ups and downs that are part of being human. The best thing we can do for a young person is be a stable and positive person in their world. Research shows the difference this makes in the level of resilience they develop. The easy part is anyone can do it, the hard part is being consistent and not giving up!
The last thing I would add is go and study! There are some epic places to learn more about youth development in New Zealand, and this will give you a strong framework for what you do as well as open doors for employment.

Read more from Kāpiti:

Zeal Kāpiti’s newest boys group, named “Phat Chats” by the young people, is redefining what it means to be a man in today’s society.

Zeal has secured almost $1,000,000 of funding to open our newest facility in Kāpiti – continuing our mission of inspiring every young New Zealander through creativity.