New Zealand Library Work: Nature Heroes: Board Game Creation Workshop w/ VIVITA Aotearoa

School terms and holidays work differently here in New Zealand. Instead of having a few months to do a summer reading program (a thing that most public libraries in the USA have), New Zealand has a few periods over the year where students get an extended break from school. In those moments, public libraries in New Zealand are tasked with thinking outside of the box to develop and/or offer some different programs & events for their communities.

I’ve been in New Zealand now for a couple of school holidays, but I have never been fully involved in the planning of programs & events until the past school holiday in April 2021. Before this holiday, I was put in touch with the amazing VIVITA Aotearoa, a “innovation studio and ideas accelerator providing free access for all children to create and innovate”. My chats with the amazing VIVITA team reminded me a lot of working with groups like Engage3D in Chattanooga, TN on projects like DEV DEV: Summer of Code so I entered this partnership with a lot of positive feelings! And I was not disappointed!

From our conversations came the idea that VIVITA would put together & organise a program during the school holidays called Nature Heroes: Board Game Creation Workshop which aimed to bring the following to youth ages 9-15:

The workshop aims to bring kids on a journey to discover conservation problems that Aotearoa is currently facing and find ways to tackle the issues by creating a simple yet educational and engaging board game. During this 5-day workshop, youth ages 9-15 learn about the concepts of design thinking, engage in creative problem solving, learn to use software and hardware and other tools found in the library’s Tūhura Hive Makerspace, and then apply these lessons to the creation of a board game centred around the theme of conversation.

VIVITA led the charge on the program logistics, scheduling, and curriculum. Our library did one of the things that public libraries do best in the 21st century: to act as a centralized location, a community center of sorts, and be the location where something amazing like this could happen….and happen it did! Everything went really well, for the youth who attended the program, for VIVITA who pulled it all together, and for the library who would help facilitate such an amazing thing to happen for the community.

Public Libraries can do a whole lot for their communities, but there are times where partnerships are needed and can really be put in place to help bring amazing things to the community. This was one of those perfect examples! The team at VIVITA Aotearoa were amazing to work with. They did things with such great planning, positivity and kindness. In the end, the program attendees got a once in a lifetime experience at the library. This is what it is all about! And guess what? There’s more to come! Partnerships like this should be kept going, and with the right positivity and willingness to cooperate, they will.

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