The Street University Clothing Label is a new and innovative Ted Noffs Foundation initiative that gives young people the chance to set up and run a multidimensional business and instil values, dignity, confidence and self-reliance. The youth involved will: 1) learn the entrepreneurial skills necessary for establishing and managing a business; 2) acquire the experience essential to working in a structured business environment; 3) be educated about business etiquette; and 4) hone their individual talents and redirect them in ways that contribute to the business vision. In addition to vocational and educational development, the business vision involves a deep commitment to cultural diversity and youth empowerment. The Street University Clothing Label project addresses important youth concerns and raises awareness of the obstacles faced by many young people in the western suburbs. It allows young people the opportunity to experience leadership roles and engage in activities that directly impact their lives.
[The Street University Clothing team meeting with their executive coach Neil Thompson]
The project provides realistic solutions to the issues affecting young people living in the Liverpool area. Liverpool experiences a high crime rate, an above average degree of socio-economic disadvantage, above average health problems and significant social disengagement among young people. Studies have shown that young people find it extremely difficult to improve their educational and vocational skills without familiar topics and themes; appealing programs; and understanding educators. The Street University Clothing Label project fills this gap; it offers opportunities to acquires knowledge and skills. In addition, it promotes team building, self confidence, respect and knowing how to set achievable goals.
[Youth of The Street University getting involved in the production process]
The project has long term benefits to community; it is expected that participants in the structured program will develop a respect for learning, community engagement and a strong work ethic. The project developers are aware of the necessary skills and habits required for successful integration into structured educational and vocational environments, and have designed the multidimensional program with these concerns in mind. The instructors, facilitators and counsellors place special emphasis on motivation, self respect, confidence, responsibility and peer support; ensuring that young people feel included, safe and respected. The program also supports initiatives geared towards social inclusion, drug and alcohol prevention and mental health – issues that are vital to The Street University.
Overall outcomes include:
Important themes and issues of concern include: racism and ethnic diversity; inter-religious dialogue; class; gender equality; youth empowerment; crime prevention; and migration and refugee issues.
Article written by:
Dr Omid Tofighian
ARC Research Assistant,
Honorary Research Associate Department of Philosophy - SOPHI
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The University of Sydney