LIFEHACK upskills youth to address mental health

Take everything you know about Government-funded organisations, and throw it away. That’s what the team at LIFEHACK are doing.

Well, they’re not throwing everything out. They’ve kept all the good stuff, they’ve added a whole lot more, and what they’ve created is a social business that tackles real problems surrounding youth mental health like Ma’a Nonu tackled Ben Blair in 2008.

LIFEHACK was the brainchild of Hilary Campbell, the Ministry for Social Development, and Jason Armishaw, previously holder of the prestigious title ‘Chief Hustler,’ and on a lesser note, Project Director.

The initiative was seed-funded by the Prime Minister’s Social Media Innovation Fund as a response to the mental health challenges that young Kiwis are facing around the country. The mandate was to work on youth wellbeing – a preventative strategy in which technology could play a big role in people’s lives day-to-day.

An enthusiastic team from Enspiral took on the project in mid-2013 and has interpreted that as an excuse to set up a national organisation for Kiwis focused on creating learning experiences through events and workshops to upskill them in order to create a better future for people around the country and a future for themselves.

What makes LIFEHACK different, and worthy of attention, is how they’re doing that.

Mentors at LIFEHACK are cultivating relationships with our nation’s youth not by being adults making blunderous attempts to be cool, or adults ‘stooping’ to a younger generation’s ‘level,’ but by involving them in relevant projects and cultivating their ideas within a supportive group.

Sam Rye, beneficiary of the coveted badge ‘Community Builder,’ described LIFEHACK as “a catalyst for Kiwis to build teams, design, develop and launch social ventures focused on youth wellbeing and technology.”

“You could say we’re acting as a provocateur to young New Zealanders,” he said, “to stand up and train their talents on addressing one of the biggest challenges of our time – the wellbeing of our own communities. We’re looking to tool up a wave of social innovators with the skills, passion, know-how and resources to do something about the challenges they see day-to-day around them – for their friends, their whanau and people around the country.

“We recognise some of the pieces of this puzzle, but we’re on a mission to further research and build the best Social Innovation Lab focused on Wellbeing & Tech in the world, and open source as much of this knowledge as possible.”

A large part of LIFEHACK’s mission involves cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset within New Zealand’s teenagers and young adults. Mentors are creating engaging learning experiences and online resources for Kiwis which will not only spark their interest in entrepreneurship, but will teach them some of the basic skills they will need when that spark becomes a flame.

Participants will be exposed to educational material across a broad range of subjects including design thinking, lean startup, social entrepreneurship, systems thinking, innovation processes, future-thinking and interpersonal communication.

“Entrepreneurs can expect to learn a more holistic approach to product/service development which will give them the toolkit to tackle problems with a user-centric, entrepreneurial outlook.”

Sam Rye says that he expects the service to develop greatly in 2014.

LIFEHACK has been designed to make it effortless for any interested individuals to get involved. There is currently no cost associated with the service since it is seed-funded by the Ministry of Social Development. However, Sam says that LIFEHACK is set up as a social enterprise, which will likely mean they will be charging for some services in the future to enable them to keep it running and scale up beyond the seed funding stage.

The team is gearing up for a big year in 2014 by capitalising on the success and enthusiasm they have encountered since they launched in February this year.

“We are an inherently mobile project; we ran events in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch & Dunedin in 2013, as well as building our community online on Twitter, Google+ and through our LIFEHACK News Bites.

“We’re looking to extend our service beyond the centres in 2014, and are keen to hear from people to help bring us to their town!”

If you’d like to get in touch with Sam Rye, email him at sam.rye@enspiral.com.
Visit the LIFEHACK Blog.

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