News | 6 November 2020

Young Shift women dancing to success

Empowerment through physical activity and wellbeing is giving young Wellington women a leg-up to becoming confident community leaders.

A line-up of happy girls, who are dancers for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and members of Shift, which is a charity that empowers young women through being active.

Shift member Bianca (left), Shift Coordinator Ella Brown, RNZB dancer Olivia Moore, NZSD dancer Tessa Karle, Shift members Amelie and Ella, Shift Coordinator Greer, and members Summer and Rosie.

Shift is a charitable trust that works in partnership with other organisations to uplift young women aged 12 to 20.

This week Shift organised for students from Wellington intermediate and high schools to attend Royal New Zealand Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty, and to have an exclusive Q&A with two of the dancers.

Shift member Amelie, 13, says she was impressed by the RNZB dancers and “how young they were”.

Ella, who is also 13, says she really enjoyed the ballet finale and a lesson she took away from the experience was “that if you work hard you can achieve what you want”.

Bianca, 17, says she “loved” getting the opportunity to meet the dancers – Olivia and Tessa – and was surprised to learn how many hours they put into their training each week.

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She says the dancers moved away from their families when they were 15 and 16 to follow their dreams of being professional dancers.

“This left me feeling inspired because both girls left home at a young age and both of them have landed themselves into a really sturdy career.”

Bianca says Shift has played a “big role” in her life.

“Shift has helped me hugely this year and I am so thankful for them. Shift has inspired me to keep doing what I believe is right. They have inspired me to never give up, helped me learn that it is okay not to be okay, and that asking for help is okay.”

Launched in 2016, Shift is funded through various organisations, including Sport New Zealand, Tū Ora Compass Health, and Ministry of Youth Development, and works in partnership with Wellington City Council.

Wellington City Shift Coordinator Ella Brown says the programme began as a way to get young women active, as statistics show the number of teenage girls being physically active and putting their wellbeing first is declining.

“Our vision is for young women to flourish in their communities. Many of the girls we work with have barriers, such as financial or cultural, or are scared of what others think and trying new things.

“What we’ve found is working with these groups for a consistent amount of time, those barriers get smaller or diminish, and the girl’s confidence really grows.”

So far this year, Shift has worked with 300 young women at various intermediate and high schools around Pōneke, as well as a teen parent unit and a youth centre.

Shift received the ballet tickets through Club Active’s partnership with RNZB. Council’s LeisureCard scheme partners, Sport Wellington, Te Ora Hou, and Wellington City Mission, also received tickets to RNZB’s The Sleeping Beauty through the Club Active partnership.