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New faces, new name and more Zeal-ness

It’s been an eventful first half of 2024 for Zeal, with some new faces on the team, a name change, and most importantly, a heap of young people experiencing spaces and opportunities that empower confidence and a sense of belonging. Here are some significant announcements, highlights and stories as we approach Matariki and a fresh new season for Zeal.

Introducing Neli Alo

Neli Alo hit the ground running when he joined us this January as the new Zeal West Auckland Manager. Neli, a New Zealand born Samoan, hails from West Auckland and brings a wealth of experience from various community organisations supporting Pasifika people and our rangatahi. He also serves as an ordained church minister for the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, Albany, known as the EFKS. Neli’s character and skills have already significantly impacted our organisation, and we look forward to his contributions in furthering Zeal’s kaupapa and values. Welcome aboard, Neli!

Our impact in Term 1, 2024

Zeal exists to support and empower young people in Aotearoa to flourish. In term 1 of this year, Zeal mahi across our five North Island centres enabled over 6,000 moments of connection, over 5,000 young people (new or returning) took part in our creative/youth development programmes, and more than 500 new young people stepped through our doors for the first time. Our teams are taking positive opportunities to connect with young people in our communities and schools through activations and programming, we are building new connections with local youth services, we have now given 454 laptops to graduates of our digital refurbishing programme; and we have just completed one of the largest ever selections of creative programmes in a single term. In addition, thanks to Ministry of Youth Development funding, we launched our new Ākonga Whakamana Project, a 15-week training and mentoring programme that supports 170 young people per year who are disengaged or at risk of disengaging from school. I am so proud of our teams and how they are showing up for rangatahi in our communities.

Zeal Youth Trust Aotearoa

We’ve undergone a name change, but there’s no need to worry. While ‘Zeal’ will continue to be used among young people, in our communities and on social media, our board has agreed to change our full trust name from ‘Zeal Education Trust’ to ‘Zeal Youth Trust Aotearoa’. We believe this new name better reflects the diverse range of programmes Zeal delivers and puts youth, who are our primary focus, at the forefront of our trust name. While this change won’t impact the day-to-day support we provide, it is significant for defining our organisation. We’re excited to begin using our updated full trust name in funding applications and official trust documentation going forward.

A story of impact aroha hope manaakitanga young resilience hononga

To finish this update, we’d like to share with you a story of impact (some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the young person). One of the incredible young people we journey with found themselves in a dark and challenging home situation. There was a large amount of dysfunction and fears for their safety. One of our youth workers supported them through these challenges taking them to appointments, bringing them kai, and providing them with much-needed care and support. As a result, the young person wrote us a letter expressing that they have never felt so cared for in their life. They told us they never had anyone support them the way that we have and thanked us for believing in them and investing in their wellbeing. They ended the letter by saying that they don’t believe they would be alive if it wasn’t for us (Zeal).

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