YANZ Creative Youth Scholarship: Russell Walters, One Year On.

May 4, 2020

In February of 2019, Russel Walters became the first student to receive Youth Arts New Zealand’s “Creative Youth Scholarship”. A budding flute player and composer at Birkenhead College, the award ensured that Russell could pursue his creativity without worrying about looming tuition fees.

A year on, we reconnected with Russell to see how the scholarship furthered his creative development:

“Knowing that my tuition was paid for took weight off my shoulders. It also helped me gain confidence in myself and know that I’m doing well.”

Surrounded by music from a young age, Russell shared the role that creativity has come to play in his mental wellbeing:

“Last year, when I was trying to get back on track, I put the feelings and emotions I’d had into my music … taking it out of my head and onto the notes really felt like there was burden lifted off.”

“You get taken to a space where you are comfortable and can share your story easily.”

The impact of the scholarship on Russell’s creative growth was also clear to Shannon, his music teacher:

“The Youth Arts New Zealand Creative Youth Scholarship meant Russell was able to continue growing as a musician including performing at some big concerts with the Philharmonic”.

Nationwide, countless New Zealand youth are unable to access resources key to their creative passions. Stories like Russell’s stands as powerful examples of the growth that comes from making the Arts accessible for our young people.

Russell’s story is far from over. Graduating from Birkenhead College last year, he is now focused on building his confidence and intelligence using the tools he gained in 2019. He is also dedicated to helping others do the same.

Youth Arts New Zealand is incredibly excited to follow Russell as he continues to develop as a musician. We’ll leave the final word to him:

“Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Try out new things, and explore.”

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