Youth Inc. - switching study up

People of Adelaide At Work

Through an inconspicuous door on Hindley Street lies Youth Inc. Self-described as an entrepreneurial studio school, Youth Inc. is breaking some of the preconceived notions of what formal education looks like. The school seeks to re-engage young people with a curriculum that is focused on experiential learning and human-centred design principles.

At Youth Inc. young people are empowered on a journey of confidence building, resilience and wellbeing to nurture a sense of purpose. Think of it as a life school, of sorts. Impactful and tangible real-world learning opportunities are driven by a strength-based approach which focuses on the interests of the individual.

ParkFest, a full-scale festival, was held in April and drew over 300 people to Light Square in a celebration of self-expression. A team of five students built the day from the ground up, implementing and overseeing operations, risk assessment, graphic design and marketing to bring a line up of food trucks, stallholders, activities and live entertainment.

“The barrier we are continually trying to overcome is that getting a young person a job doesn’t holistically address the challenges or problems that young people are facing in life.”
Ben Trewren, Experiential Learning Manager, Youth Inc.

Bmx riding at parkfest

BMX riding at ParkFest.

Conventional subjects are swapped with the likes of The Impact Project and The Passion Project which run for one term each. The curriculum is what you would expect from the names, with Learning Managers delivering projects that help students realise how they can make a positive difference in the world and how they can develop their capabilities through delving into a topic they are very passionate about.

There’s also the co-creation and delivery of entrepreneurial projects, called Work Ventures, that tick off SACE or tertiary requirements. This results in entrepreneurial feats such as flowerbar, a pop up florist. Students Jack, Jason, Janaya, Josh and Jess were involved in the management of every business development touchpoint and run the business under the guidance of professional florist Tessa Dominy. The high foot traffic site in the iconic Adelaide Railway Station was secured through the Renewal SA Works Program.

Flowerbar at adelaide railway station

flowerbar at the Adelaide RAILWAY Station.

“A big part of skill formation is learning how to take initiative, problem solve and creatively think,” said Ben.

The broader city business community have rallied around Youth Inc to provide support through mentorship, employment opportunities and sponsorship. The senior management team at The Grand Chancellor opened the doors to its boardroom for an interactive session showing students how a workplace operates, what opportunities exists and the sharing of personal stories centred around resilience. The Barbery shut its doors to provide barbering and hairdressing experiences pro bono at ParkFest while William Buck accountants have generously provided financial support.

Barber academy popup at parkfest

Getting a haircut at The Barbery popup at ParkFest.

From large scale strategies to the minutiae of the everyday, Youth Inc. is continually looking for the opportunity to give students real life experience.

If your organisation wants to build the future alongside Youth Inc., contact the team at [email protected].

Article by

Vivien Nguyen

Vivien Nguyen