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Empowering youth through performing arts.

Auckland is now the fourth most diverse city in the world, ahead of Sydney, London and even New York.

With now more than 220 ethnic groups living in the city, how do we support our refugee and migrant youth communities as they adjust to life as Aucklanders?

Receiving support from a number of funds managed by Auckland Foundation, including the Rua and Clarrie Stevens Memorial Trust, Mixit is a project that uses creativity to empower young people.

By bringing cross-cultural youth together through creative projects, the programme has helped young people with refugee backgrounds find confidence, self-expression and communication skills, as well as meet new people and make connections.

Mixit Director, Wendy Preston, believes that the inspiration behind the programme has ultimately led to its success.

"We had a great head start under the umbrella of The Fledgling Trust, who were interested in understanding the issues and support in New Zealand for refugee background youth."

"They commissioned me to do some research in 2005, which included considering the potential of a creative community initiative. However, what we DIDN’T want to create was a performance company. The intention was always to use creativity to provide a platform that supported young people to own their individual voice, expression and identity."

Originally from Sudan, 22 year old Hana’s Eritrean family is from a former refugee background. She first joined Mixit after being inspired by a presentation at her high school.

Six years later, Hana has since been a Youth Leader, become part of the newly formed Mixit Alumni Group, and is a Trustee on the Board.

She believes that the main difference that Mixit makes to young people is the confidence they acquire.

"I also see the outcome of that confidence: really strong young people who are communicating well, focused, determined, ambitious, very loving and caring, very interested in sharing with people… these are some of the things which are very important to me. To see people gain confidence, and then see that confidence come out in this manner just really amazes me."

Photo supplied by Mixit.