Shyla Kelly

Founder / lead Facilitator

Shyla studied Psychology and Anthropology at the University of Auckland and has trained under the Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand Psychodrama Association. Shyla has been in the youth development field since 2010, working as a group facilitator, youth development worker, drama teacher, youth mentor, and volunteer phone counsellor with organisations including Youthline, Action Education and Camp Quality.

I have always loved the creative arts, and when I discovered improv dance and drama in my late teens I felt as though I had found a mode of creative expression that fit me perfectly. I love that improvisation allows us to break free from the pressure to “get it right”, fostering creative freedom and a sense of playfulness.

Another aspect of improvisation that I particularly enjoy is the connection that arises between people when a piece of improvised dance or theatre is being created. Improvisation requires us to be attentive and responsive to the ideas and feelings of others as they arise, building a sense of trust and shared understanding.

Working in the youth development sector is another part of my life that is hugely important to me. I love that my work involves facilitating groups of people, many of them young people themselves, who are passionate about empowering and supporting young New Zealanders.

My idea for drama-based youth development classes stemmed from a desire to combine a love of drama and creative expression with a passion for group work and youth development. These combined passions have eventuated in Initialize, a place where we don’t teach drama — we let drama teach us. In doing so, we recognise our students as experts in their own lives and as the resilient, creative, and capable individuals that they are.


Shyla (far left) with her three younger sisters.

Shyla (far left) with her three younger sisters.