It’s not everyday you can bid to drive a tank, but that’s what the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) kindly put up for auction to help raise funds for the YMCA Raise Up N Represent CBD Connect evening. Only in Auckland right?!

The night was full of high energy and standout performances from Auckland youth with a great turn out from local businesses showing their support. I also go to spend some time with very close friends and legends Inga Tuigamala, Eroni Clark and Graham Lowe, and up and coming rugby players Salim and Alex – two students from Washington who were in the country on scholarship to play rugby at Avondale College.

The gifted and multiple award winning slam poet Courtney Meredith started the evening with two beautiful recitals, Basilica and Rushing Doll, which you can watch above. Courtney works with Auckland City Council organizing youth events, and she recently did the opening for Sam Hunt and separately, a New York fashion show. New Zealand talent taking on the world yet again.

We were then entertained by up and coming hip hop groups, the all-girl crew from Massey Trak 1 and a mixed-gender crew Sample from Panmure. These guys have got energy – and what YMCA event wouldn’t be complete without a little exercise? Bring on the team of four skipping rope stars, I think everyone felt motivated to dust off the old skipping rope in the garage and do a little good for the heart after seeing these guys. Chris Waipara and PennyJ then serenaded us through dinner.

Next on stage were the World Hip Hop Champions “ReQuest” who had only just returned from winning the competition in Las Vegas. After an interview with MTV, they came onto the dance floor to give a high-voltage performance.

In my speech on the Opportunity Economy I talked about Recognition, Joy, Responsibility, and Learning – and as part of the idea of recognition, I’ve partnered with the YMCA to create the ‘Heart of Gold’ KR Achievement Award. This will be given every year to someone in Auckland who represents everything good in youth, creativity, a great idea and inspiration. After considering a lot of inspirational people for the award, the first recipient is the very special and talented Ashleigh MacKinven, who choreographed the crew “ReQuest”, for her outstanding work with city youth.

Helping young people to be the best they can be has never been more important. Here in Auckland I work with TYLA – Turn Your Life Around – which runs programs for at-risk youth. TYLA has been a big part of my life for the past decade or more and there’s a lot in common between TYLA and YMCA – Raise Up N Represent sums it up. Special thanks to Brian Barnett, YMCA Auckland Youth Development Manager, CEO John Fairhurst and their team for the vision to put on such a great evening. I urge all of you to seek out your local YMCA and see if you can help create a better future for all of us, by bringing together youth, sport, creativity and business.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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