Raise Up was launched by YMCA Auckland back in 2012. The aim of Raise Up is to get youth into creating events and working on projects to benefit their local community. In the Wellington region, we have three crews each made up of a coordinator who works as the group’s organiser/mentor and a crew of between five and fifteen youth. Each crew will generally meet weekly to hang out, eat food and work on their upcoming events with the aim to have one large event a year and several smaller dispersed throughout.  Two weeks ago, Raise Up Upper Hutt held their annual House of Horrors event.  House of Horrors was first launched by the Upper Hutt crew in 2017. The event proved such a success that they decided to go ahead again in 2018. Running the event for a second year meant it  had to be bigger and better than the previous, therefore this years’ experience would see additional actors, props and four more rooms making a total of ten rooms these were to include strobe room, clowns, zombie alleyway, the tunnel, storage room, surgical theatre, the church,  haunted morgue, black graveyard and the sheet maze.

Stephen, our Raise Up Upper Hutt coordinator started to plan the event with his crew at the beginning of July. When planning an event of this size, the biggest issue the crew face is securing funding. Stephen mentored his crew in applying for their own funding grants, writing sponsorship letters and meeting with officials. After many application forms being filled and letters written, they managed to secure $4,000 from the Cosmopolitan Club and Creative Community. Once funding was secured the crew were tasked with budgeting the whole project. Each member took on a leadership role be it booking the venue, booking security for the weekend, sourcing makeup, special effects or props. Throughout the sixteen weeks, it took to plan and execute the event many logistical challenges were met and overcome including finding enough actors to assist in the event. Members of the crew had the idea to call on local drama students and colleges to find students willing to spend the weekend scaring the local community. This, it turns out they were incredibly keen to do!

The Raise Up programmes overarching aim is to make a positive impact on the local community. There are many ways of measuring our impact on the community and the crew. Our key measurement is our event turnout and enjoyment factor analysed by feedback. We received a lot of great comments on both evenings from youth who really enjoyed the haunted house and parents who stated they were pleasantly surprised at both how great the haunted house experience was, the professional setup and the attitude of all our actors and organisers. Throughout the Friday and Saturday night, we had a whopping 360 people from the local community through the doors. Each group, arrived, were briefed, made their way through the house and had their photo taken.

If you missed this year’s House Of Horrors, don’t fear as we will be back next year even bigger!

Raise Up is a completely free programme for youth aged 13 – 18. Most groups meet for one evening a week during term time. It’s fun, social and a great way to learn some invaluable life skills. If you or someone you know is interested in joining a Raise Up crew we have three in Greater Wellington including Upper Hutt, Porirua and Masterton flick us an email to get involved!