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Spoken word proves to be mighty.

Action Education offers programmes for disengaged and isolated young people – but with a difference.

Through spoken word and poetry workshops, young people are encouraged to discover their own voice, express their feelings, and articulate their journey.

"Spoken word is actually a wonderful tool for improving wellness, increasing literacy, and encouraging active learning," says funding coordinator Julia Rahui.

Action Education, which is the sister organisation of Youthline, received funding from the Auckland Airport Community Trust in 2016 to run its spoken word programme at Aorere College, De La Salle College and Papatoetoe High School in South Auckland.

As well as running larger workshops for up to 60 students, teams of four from each school received mentoring and coaching in the lead up to the annual 'WORD - The Front Line', a poetry slam event that gives young people the opportunity to learn leadership and creativity skills over the course of a weekend.

"By providing a safe environment for young people to express themselves in a new way without fear of any judgement, we find that afterwards they feel empowered and able to connect with others. And often using spoken word allows them to communicate a difficult issue, or feelings they might not otherwise be comfortable expressing," adds Julia.

"Feedback from the students show that through the spoken word workshops they learn the importance of friends, support and social connections. The increased confidence, self-esteem and personal development is just amazing to see."

Youthline CEO Stephen Bell says, "It was a pleasure to see so many young men, particularly those from Maori and Pacific Island heritage take the mantle of an oral storytelling tradition through poetry." 

And a teacher from Aorere College agrees that the students have gained a sense of confidence from taking part, thanks to spoken word.

"They [Action Education] have helped carve a path for our students to express themselves with their words. Sometimes the stories that our students share via the medium of poetry have been hard-hitting, but Action Education have shown great leadership in enabling the youth of Aorere College to stand in their truths."

Photo credit: Sole Photography