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A social movement
Unfold is a social movement; designed to support positive mental health and wellbeing, reduce alcohol and drug related harm, and lift the horizons of young people.
We know that for many young people, drugs and alcohol fuel their social lives. These substances reduce social inhibitions, promise entertainment, and enable social connection. Drugs and alcohol are also seen as a ‘coping mechanism’ – allowing people to escape challenges they face. Harmful use of alcohol and other drugs can also indicate young people are navigating other complexities in their life.
Therefore, Unfold works to build the wellbeing of young people, and fulfil some of the needs they may meet with drugs and alcohol.
It aims to:
○ Build a sense of belonging and connection
○ Relieve stress and pressure
○ Create opportunities to test limits
○ Enable young people to be creative
○ Help young people feel seen and valued
Kids with a story
Unfold is for ‘kids with a story’. Our insight gathering processes, with Māori and Pasifika rangatahi across Aotearoa, indicated these are young people who have a sense of pride in being from ‘the hood’, but tend to feel that they don’t belong in many other spaces. Life hasn’t been easy for them – many feel like they’ve had to grow up too quickly – but they have a strong desire to do more, and be more. These young people often have strong connections to family – although family isn’t always a safe or positive influence. They value expressing themselves through creative outlets such as music, dancing and art – but often don’t feel they have time, space or opportunities to achieve their potential.
Building a brand with young people
Our theory of change hypothesised: if we build a brand with young people – something that they could trust, relate to, and want to be a part of – then we could empower them to unlock their creative talents, feel pride in their stories, recognise their own potential and lift their aspirations. By doing this, we felt we could create new social norms to meet young people’s social and emotional needs – norms that support safe and healthy ways of being and minimise alcohol and drug related harm.
Careful curation of events and content
Unfold comes to life through careful curation of social media content and events that celebrate local young people and offer opportunities to connect and create. To further elevate these experiences, our communities creativity is shared in online and outdoor media spaces; further building a sense of pride, belonging, and connection.
The Unfold movement has grown and evolved – responding to the needs and ideas of the community. In the last year, the project has co-created a variety of in-person and online opportunities for young people to come together to connect and create. We’ve run events and activations, pasted posters, painted murals, made beats, podcasts and dropped zines. The creative results have been amplified across social media – helping young people know their talents are seen and valued.
Authentically owned and gaining momentum
We anticipated it would take time to build trust and relationships with Unfold. However, Social media shares and comments – and in-person feedback on our events – indicate Unfold is having a significant positive impact on rangatahi and their wider communities. The movement has come to be authentically owned by young people, and is quickly gaining momentum – with the project’s online organic reach expanding month by month. The project’s impact was recognised at the 2021 Best Awards, where it was awarded silver in the public good category.