Planting the Seed

 Credit:  MHB Photography

UNIVERSITY OF WAIKATO, 13 February 2018

Five University of Waikato alumni launched Seed Waikato last year, a social enterprise designed to help young people in the Waikato thrive. Inspired by the energy and enthusiasm in New Zealand’s youngest city, the group aspires to create opportunities for young people to connect through online channels, workshop sessions and monthly storytelling events.

Seed Waikato Chair Gemma Slack says the concept of Seed was born in April 2016 when she met co-founder Ryan O’Connor at the Rotary Young Leadership Awards. The pair questioned what was missing from young culture and decided to launch a new initiative to inspire and engage 18-30-year-olds in the Waikato.

One year later, the group had expanded and completed over 100 hours of research on what young people in the Waikato want. By May 2017, Seed developed an organisational structure and began to plan their events.

September saw Seed rise to success with its first inspirational storytelling evening, themed 'A Movement in Thinking - How Growth Mindset Will Shake Up Your Life.' Held at the Hamilton Gardens, the event quickly sold out and provided a platform for three young influencers to share their stories of resilience. The group’s success soon caught the attention of Hamilton City Council, and Seed secured a $10,000 grant from the Ministry of Youth Development.

“It’s been incredible to see the positive impact our events have had on the community,” says Gemma. “Our attendees have said our events have given them inspiring mentors to look up to, and encouraged them to start volunteering to give back to their community. It’s so nice to build a cool culture for young people in the Waikato.”

The team now consists of ten members, made up of committee members and helpers, known as ‘activators’. Primarily Waikato alumni, their diverse academic backgrounds range from a Bachelor of Management Studies (Honours) to a Bachelor of Teaching.

“It’s great to work with people from so many different areas because it means we can use our diverse perspectives to come up with innovative new ideas together,” says Seed Learning and Development Manager Kendyl Morris. “We may have studied different things at the University of Waikato, but we all have one thing in common – the University taught us to work together and think creatively.”

Seed’s October, November and December events continued to sell out, and a total of over 280 people attended their four events in 2017. In December, the group collaborated with Serve Waikato, collectively giving 85 volunteer hours. Their plans are only getting bigger for 2018. Seed will relaunch monthly storytelling events starting in February, before expanding their events to meet the ever-growing demands of youth in Hamilton.

“We are planning quarter by quarter to ensure we can continue creating events, channels and workshops that young people want to come to. We are really inspired when we hear feedback from Hamiltonians, and we will continue to grow this year. This is just the beginning for Seed,” says Gemma.

Seed Waikato’s next event, Standing In Your Truth: The Year of You, will be held on 28 February at the Chartwell Room, Hamilton Gardens, from 6-8pm. If you would like to be part of the Seed Waikato team, see how you can get involved.