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Meet the family: Janelle Collins, Programmes Coordinator

Janelle has been around Zeal West for a while. Starting off as part of the Live For Tomorrow team, she has recently taken on the role of Programmes Coordinator, running the afternoon classes in Auckland. We had a talk to her about Zeal, mahi, and treats – read more below!

How did you first get involved with Zeal?

Janelle: Truth be told, I was doing a bit of stalking for organisations that were doing good for people.

I came out of uni unsettled, and realised that the work I wanted to get into had to make my heart happy too. I followed my gut and spent 2016 volunteering for different projects in youth development, events, and social entrepreneurship.

But at some point I realised I needed money to live, but still had this ache to create change. Live for Tomorrow had an opportunity to do just that, and for the first time ever I read a job ad that sounded like a good fit! I then joined the Live for Tomorrow fam as a Project Assistant late 2016.

What is your new role at Zeal West?

Janelle: It’s exciting. That’s what it is! I’ve jumped offices and teams and have joined the West team as the Programmes Coordinator.

I’m only a few days into the job, but as soon as Term 3 starts I’ll be running around looking after the creative programmes that happen here afterschool, making sure Gateway runs smoothly (and teaching it!), and hanging out with some awesome rangatahi and their whānau. I’m pretty stoked that this job has a mix of planning and involvement with the young people that come through our doors.

What does your typical day at Zeal look like?

Janelle: There’s no such thing! I come in, have some yarns to the Live for Tomorrow team (West doesn’t believe in work before 10am haha). Do some life admin, which usually involves a lot of paper and not a lot of desk space for the others. We usually take a team walk to Pak n Save for a $4 roll, and then if I’m lucky some young people come in and crash the office in the arvo. Dance parties go down at 3pm. I also get the chance to hang out with our awesome OCI volunteers that rotate through every evening – and steal their snacks. “Do the mahi, get the treats.” – there’s a lot of that around here!

Why did you choose to get in to working with youth?

Janelle: While I was volunteering I was surrounded by so many young people who were keen on creating change. It was really powerful to see that given an opportunity, a young person could thrive!

I’m also a big believer in people learning through passion and strengths. There’s an awesome opportunity to do that at Zeal, and in my new role, even more so!

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

Janelle: Oh, so many. The coolest thing about Zeal is that my role has grown with me, and I keep getting tossed cool opportunities.

My favourite moments with Live for Tomorrow have been the chance to facilitate trainings about mental health with young people. I always come away buzzing from those days!

As a team, we’ve had some really great times with our young people, just hanging out and having yarns. Work days are so much better when they involve a young person stopping in.

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

Janelle: Prepare to get invested.

I really appreciate that at Zeal we journey alongside our young people, and that they truly are part of the whānau. I’ve shared so many laughs and big smiles with my young people, and have shed tears over them too. And that’s ok. I think that’s where the change happens, when we can just love on a person until they feel at home with us and the space.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

Janelle: I moved out of home for the first time towards the start of this year, so seeing family when I can is really important! I’m also trying to get back into drawing and art by starting a bullet journal which can take up whole days sometimes when I’m in the zone.

What are your plans for Zeal in 2018?

Janelle: I’m trying to give myself space to accept that transitioning into this role will take a while, so I’m trying to be kind to myself!

We have some big projects that I want to finish up well with Live for Tomorrow, and then I’ll make the full jump to the West team. In terms of Programmes, I’m going to ease into them and (hopefully) keep them pumping for the next two terms. I’m excited that at the end of the year I’ll be able to plan for next year! I nerd out at researching, planning and creating, so I’m really keen to see what awesome mahi I could create for our young people for 2019.

Most importantly, I plan on continuing to warmly welcome rangatahi into our home out West.

Read more from Zeal:

“What I love about Zeal is how the values Zeal hold are not just something written on a page on the website but something the Zeal whānau carry and embody. It excites me to serve this awesome mission in this next season.”
“Zeal is the only all ages venue on the coast, dedicated to giving young people a space to perform and show their talents,” says Dooley.