Nearly 90 years of journeying alongside young people
Who We Are
We are a nationally operated, not-for-profit organisation focused on empowering the young people of Aotearoa New Zealand to be the best they can be.
We run programmes and programme spaces across the country for 5-18 year-olds that aim to inspire and promote the learning of life skills, working collaboratively, understanding and building resilience and unlocking potential. This is all done with the aim of seeing empowered young people, engaged in their communities.
Youthtown programmes are delivered before, during and after school and also in the school holidays. We work with young people, parents and caregivers, schools and community groups and you can find us in key communities right across the country.
What does that look like? It means every young person who comes through our doors receives a welcome like no other and has a place to figure out life, learn a skill, make friends, try new stuff and grow in confidence in a safe, inclusive environment - on their terms. When they leave us, they go out into their world(s) and put what's been gained into action in their lives.
Where We've Come From
Youthtown is a proud and uniquely Kiwi institution since 1932. Wow, we’re nearly ninety years old!
Back then, the Great Depression was in full swing. With a wave of mass unemployment spreading across Aotearoa New Zealand, protests and riots erupted as the frustration of not being able to provide and progress took its toll on a desperate workforce and its dependents.
Amidst the backdrop of this extraordinary time, a small boxing gym opened in Parnell, Auckland. Designed to get boys off the street and into learning a new skill, 'Boystown' was a partnership between the Police and community business folk.
As the years passed, that small gym turned into an iconic sports and leisure facility on Nelson Street: a second home to many young people across the city. Around the same time, Boystown management sensibly recognised that a name change would mirror this universal sense of belonging their clientele were feeling about the place, growing with the times to become ‘Youthtown’. From this launchpad, Youthtown spaces opened across the North and South Islands to extend the experience to more communities. This is where we are at today.
Though our Nelson Street home is sadly now no more, some of the original programme staff from those days still work nationally to help every new Youthtown team member understand our history, memories and impact as we create each new programme space for children and young people across our many communities.