Promoting the Youth Voice – An Interview with Tayla Reece

11 December 2017

23 year old Tayla Reece has made a career of ensuring that young people have their voices heard about the things that matter most to them.

Tayla Reece

She hails from Kaiapoi, a small town in the Waimakariri District and has recently completed a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Canterbury. Having lived and volunteered in both locations, she feels strongly connected to both communities. She has had extensive involvement in youth-focused roles and explains her reasons for this.

“I think what motivates me most is seeing the positive changes young people can make with the right support. Young people have so much potential and often just need some guidance in the right direction to achieve some really amazing things. Whether it’s a project, event, writing a submission or advocating for something they’re passionate about – what inspires and motivates me is seeing young people get passionate and get involved in their communities.”

Tayla’s interest in promoting the youth voice began in 2011 when Waimakariri District Council’s youth development coordinator visited her school and invited her to a youth forum. Here, she would have the opportunity to talk about what excited her about her community, what she wasn’t fond of, and what she would change. It signalled the start of her volunteering journey.

“I was just 16 years old at the time and felt really empowered by this opportunity and was keen to get further involved and make a difference. I went on to become a founding member of WAIYouth, a youth action group of young volunteers who would do projects and events ‘for youth, by youth’.

“I then went on to become a founding member of the Waimakariri Youth Council, a group that aimed to strengthen the relationship between young people and the Waimakariri District Council and promote the voice of young people in the district,” she says.

Following on from her positive experience with Waimakariri Youth Council, Tayla became involved in Youth Voice Canterbury (YVC) in 2014. This is a network of youth councils and youth participation groups which supports young people to develop their leadership skills, have a voice, and get involved in decision-making. She was Co-Chairperson for two years until end-2016. In 2017, she became Chairperson and has committed to another year on the YVC in 2018. She has relished the experience even though it has been a huge commitment.

“This has been a massive role, including organising meetings, doing administration, writing submissions, organising trainings for the network, collaborating on projects, coordinating events, networking, and learning about funding and budgeting. It’s had some major ups and a few downs, but I’ve loved every minute of this role that has given me so many opportunities to develop my leadership and learn more about myself.

“Going into 2018 some of the things I would like to achieve with Youth Voice Canterbury is sourcing funding for a coordinator and becoming more sustainable, growing the network and promoting YVC more, and organising the Canterbury Youth Awards 2018,” says Tayla.

With so much valuable experience under her belt, we thought Tayla would be a good person to give some advice to other young people thinking of getting involved in volunteering.

“I think the best way to have the confidence to ‘give it a go’, no matter the project or initiative, is to make sure you have the right people around you. No matter your experience level or skill set, if you have the right people there to support and mentor you, then you are able to do anything!” she says.

Tayla is clearly someone who gets things done – we can’t wait to see what she achieves next.