A programme to support rangatahi facing external challenges that impact on their ability to postively engage in education. ​​​​​​​

Rangatahi connecting with themselves, each other, and engaging in their communities. 

What is the purpose of GROW?

Take care of our children

Take care of what they hear

Take care of what they see

Take care of what they feel

For how the children grow

So will be the shape of Aotearoa

- Dame Whina Cooper

For young people to have successful life outcomes and be resilient in the face of challenges, it is essential they have supportive relationships with important people in their lives.

The GROW programme was created and developed for rangatahi in Aotearoa who will benefit from building structured and intentional developmental relationships into their lives. Its focus is on rangatahi care, alternative education or those facing other challenges in their lives that impact on their ability to engage in educational pathways that support successful life outcomes for them.

Youthtown’s practice with young people supports one vision: ‘empowered young people, engaged in their communities’. This practice is underpinned by four key curriculum objectives:

  • Learning life skills 
  • Working Collaboratively 
  • Building Resilience 
  • Unlocking Potential 

The GROW programme curriculum builds on these with the addition of the following two features: 

  • Growing Self-Awareness 
  • Widening Worldview


International research has shown that transitioning out of care is more straightforward if young poeple are connected to peers, whānau and other trusted adults.

Furthermore, young people need a supportive relationship with at least one adult willing to walk alongside them. The GROW programme manual points to a range of research evidencing this simple observation, along with research to support the GROW programme’s approach to supporting young people in this environment.

What is involved?

Central to building developmental relationships in the Aotearoa context is the Ngā Uri Ō model, which was developed as a collaboration between Lifehack, Sovereign and Youthline. This model works powerfully alongside the Developmental Relationships Framework (Search Institute, 2021). Our weekly activities help rangatahi recognise their assets and grow their strengths in a team environment and take those strengths out into the world. 

GROW Programme Summary:

1. ko wai au/who am I?

2. ko wai koe/who are you?

3. ko wai tātau/who are we?

GROW is a ten-week programme, including weekly after school sessions, weekend activities and a camp. Young people can return, progressively taking on leadership roles in the programme. Journeying through the programme, rangatahi will work through activities to determine how they want to reach their destination and who they want to be when they arrive.

Throughout the programme rangatahi are supported by our youth worker, who is available to work with them outside the 'formal' programme and to liase with whānau and/or social workers to provide the best possible chance of success of the participants.

Each session includes activities that are assigned specific ‘GROW GOALS’. Central to the programme is the understanding that we are not the answers to rangatahi, by valuing their experiences and what they bring to the space. The activities align with the five pou, or grounding concepts, as participants progressively work through the Ngā Uri Ō journey: 

1. Whakawhanaungatanga: Energising activities to start the day.

2. Manaakitanga: Check in activities to gauge rangatahi emotions and support needs.

3. Kaitiakitanga: Core activities which support understanding around the concept of mana: how we are born with and care for our own mana and in respecting the mana of others, we determine our own success.

4. Whakarongo: Mindfulness activities to support connection with self, others and own community.

5. Waka to whare: Reflective activities which offer participants a chance to on their journey through the programme.

How do we know if it works?

The GROW programme was developed in collaboration with the University of Auckland, led by Dr Laura Chubb (PhD Social Work, MSc, B.PE), Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education & Social Work. This summary draws on the GROW programme manual and learning modules. The targeted outcomes that our that our evalution framework is built upon, is below: