A wave of youth activation and participation is rolling on to our shores. Parliament has recently received its youngest MP in 42 years, the Green Party’s Chloe Swarbrick (23). On a local level, Rodney’s youngest Local Board member, Tessa Berger and myself recently hosted a Rodney Youth Voters meet the candidates event for the general election. This event was met with a positive reception from young people wanting to make an informed decision on where to place their tick on their ballot paper. Additionally, our Hibiscus & Bays representative on the Auckland Youth Advisory Panel, Year 13 KingsWay school student Lucy Pearson, is “enjoying experiencing the logistical side of what it takes to change our city and individual regions”.
The Hibiscus Coast also has local students, Nat Sharp and Raedon Kane, founders of ‘One Bag at a Time’, aspiring to see the Hibiscus Coast become plastic bag free – they are stoked about Countdown’s latest announcement to ditch the plastic bags. And I could go on about other cases of youth stepping up to the plate, but I have a precious 450-word limit to keep to!
What is it that all these examples have in common? Initiative! These youths have identified the gaps and risen to the occasion, which ties in with the Local Board’s objective for the next term – to support youth to have a voice and youth leadership in the community.
Where else is initiative needed? The Local Board has recently conducted an East Coast Bays Needs assessment. This shared similar results to the Hibiscus Coast’s Needs Assessment (published in 2015). Both identified loneliness as one of the major issues facing young and old alike. The Local Board has suggestions as to how we can address this issue, but I would love to hear from you on how you think we can help the building of community ties!
In 2017, we know that times have changed. We live in an individualistic, technological society that arguably does not possess the valuable community ties of years gone by. The Local Board values the events that groups run, in bringing together members of the community and giving our youth places to thrive! These events are funded through the community grants scheme.
Lastly, my vision is for our youth to be more connected on the Coast. I recently went with a group of Coast school students to the Hibiscus Coast Youth Centre. We were all really inspired by the activities that are taking place in our local youth community hub and particularly excited about the Youth Café that the centre operates. This is a great environment for youth to go to chill out in after school (open from 3.30pm-6pm). It also creates a great opportunity for youth to forge cross-school connections.
So come on Hibiscus Coast youth, let’s take the initiative and catch onto the youth wave that is rolling into our shores!