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It was started in South Auckland in 2015 by The Cause Collective (formerly known as the Alliance Community Initiatives Trust - ACIT) to connect young Pasifika people to health services. Since then Do Good Feel Good has developed into a movement for Pasifika wellbeing and it is in the process of expanding from a strictly youth focus, to one that involves older adults too.

Chillion Sanerivi is the Youth Mobiliser for Do Good Feel Good. He told us their story:

Philosophy

“In 2015 the Trust wanted to come up with something innovative and creative that would help young Pasifika people manage their health. We are not good at doing that. Take rheumatic fever for example: Young people just think it is a sore throat and never go to the doctor. It is their mind-set. So the Ministry of Health funded us to develop a preventative health programme for young people, to try to help shift their behaviour.

“When we started we held events which included a health education topic and we completed over 200 health surveys to find out if there was any increase of knowledge to help shift that behaviour and to also triage them to services for their immediate needs. What we found was that the key messages weren’t sticking with young people, and they weren’t interested in health education. They think they are OK. It’s not relevant and it’s not a sexy topic for them. So we decided, why don’t we just experience health and wellness and learn to talk about it? Instead of being a health promoter, why don’t we involve young people to co-design a movement that is youth-led to promote health and wellbeing? We wanted to find a way that young people could make health relevant.

“The underpinning philosophy of Do Good Feel Good is – you will feel good in the long term if you are proactive and manage your health and wellbeing. ACC had a great message a few years back, ‘Prevention is better than cure’. This wasn’t any different. You need to look after yourself and be empowered to do so. This also applies when we serve our community too. We know that if we do that, we come away feeling really good. So we have transitioned away from health and we are now more focussed on wellbeing – holistically. Everything we do is to improve a person’s wellbeing which will help enhance community wellbeing and our neighbourhoods.

“Do Good, Feel Good is about young people leading change in South Auckland.

Four SKWADS

“In our movement we have about 50 people organised into four SKWADS – an acronym for ‘Serving Kindness with Acts and Deeds’. There is a Creative SKWAD. The Active SKWAD; Youth Voice SKWAD and Top SKWAD.

“The Creative SKWAD is about creating positive spaces for young people to connect through creative activity. We host dance pop-ups, where we hire a space and we invite a well-known dancer and make a call out to people in the community to come along. Social media helps with that – we can reach up to 50,000 people and have over 1000 followers. In 2018 there were over 100 young people attending our popups with a few consistently attending which allowed us to recruit them into our family. The spaces we create give youth positivity and a sense of belonging: that is crucial to our movement. Focusing on connection fosters positivity and meaningful connection. We use creativity to do that.

“Active SKWAD is about creating positive spaces for young people to connect through activity. In the weekend just gone they hosted a tag tournament, pulling in over 120 young people together for a day. Again, through social media, it brings a variety of people together, and they feel connected and it encourages the movement. Physical activity is an important part to help improve health and wellbeing.

“Youth Voice SKWAD is about amplifying the voice of young people in South Auckland to create change. This SKWAD was established in October last year. There are about 12 in the group at the moment and they are planning a hackathon in April. It will be a youth conference led by youth for youth in the Mangere Otahuhu Local Board area. Not only are we inviting young people to talk about local issues and concerns, we want to give them the tools – we want to build the capacity of young people to design some solutions or starting points that they can test their assumption and learn by doing.

“The final one is Top SKWAD. For the last 2-3 years, Do Good, Feel Good have been working in four streets in Mangere. The vision created by Top SKWAD is that these four streets they live in will be the cleanest and safest streets in Mangere. There’s a reserve in the neighbourhood that is underutilised and the SKWAD want to change that. Top SKWAD adopted an alley-way where heaps of rubbish is dumped and is felt to be unsafe. They designed a 10 week challenge to change that. Collectively the SKWAD completed over 500 voluntary hours, removed over 200 items of rubbish including a lounge suite, a car radiator and a queen sized mattress. They have observed that a lot of this rubbish is dumped by people from outside their neighbourhood. To date they have adopted a second alley way and are about to monitor and remove rubbish.

“The young people in Do Good, Feel Good are sick of the same narrative, the South Auckland stereotype. The leaders across all the SKWADs are interested in changing that narrative so they are taking action on things that are important to them, to role model to other young people that they can create change. Young people have a right to contribute to their communities and society.

“We also work in partnership with One Love Mangere, another Alliance Community Initiative Trust programme also supported by government, which is engaging residents living in challenging situations and working on increasing their social capital. Do Good, Feel Good’s involvement helps to build a youth feedback loop on their neighbourhood. What this association has found is that young people influence their parents. They are an important part of identifying the social changes that will improve the health and wellbeing of their families. Their parents are inspired to be active in their neighbourhood too.

A transformative movement

“So we are about wellbeing, and wellbeing is improving. The young people who are part of Do Good Feel Good didn’t used to know how to say how they feel, how they feel about where they are at. I can now see that they can stand up in front of others and talk about how they feel and the changes they want to see in their community. Their voices are being heard in the design of these activities. I see them smiling a lot more, they now have a voice to contribute to the meetings. They are finding confidence and are becoming more self-managing. There has been a shift in the way they present themselves, and part of that is to role model in the movement.

“These little signs show the transformation that is happening slowly. This is not a short term project or programme, this is a movement. We want to embed it in our community, so our young people can find their place in the world. To be the best they can.

“Our young people are influencing their families: they are very proactive and informed about what is happening in the community. So now we have a group of Mamas who have seen their kids doing good, taking ownership and designing their own challenges and they are inspired and want to do something similar – focusing on their concerns and issues. They are discussing establishing a zumba class which is about connection as much as health. The need for connection and relationship building in our community is high. It’s part of our human nature to connect, the process of whakawhanaungatanga is highly important.”

Do Good Feel Good’s purpose is to revolutionise the way social change happens – one person, one family, and one community at a time. Recently the Ministry of Health evaluated the movement so there is now increasing evidence to show that this innovative model is working.