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Youth Week starts off with a bang in Canterbury

Kenzie Jennings-Gruar
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Students at Cheviot Area School enjoying their sausages   Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

“Our voices matter, we deserve to be heard” - Canterbury rangatahi celebrate Youth Week

Kiwis will acknowledge young people from the age of 12 to 24 throughout the week, with this year's Youth Week theme "Our voices matter, we deserve to be heard”.

Ara Taiohi is the main body for youth development in New Zealand.

Executive office Jane Zintl said Youth Week was our opportunity as a nation to celebrate the strengths, skills and talents of and with young New Zealanders.

"The impact of COVID-19 on key life events has affected us all," she said.

"For young people this has included key coming of age celebrations such as graduations and school formals and Youth Week gives them the opportunity to proactively lead in this space for themselves."

Zintl added it was crucial for all people to be heard as it affirmed identity. Canterbury's events kicked off over the weekend with everything from clothing swaps to shirt painting.

Hurunui Youth held its second event yesterday at Cheviot Area School. The school's principal Blair Sheat, said Youth Week was hugely important for rural schools as they have little access to youth support.

"When you're in a rural town, everyone knows everyone; so reaching out for help is a lot more difficult than in the city."

Ward Shearman from Hurunui Youth, said it was important to connect with young people to know what their needs are. 

Mount Hutt College will also be contributing to Youth Week this year with their students participating in a showcase on Friday at the Mount Hutt Memorial Hall. 

Juanita Richards, Community Activator of Wellbeing Opuke, is organising the event alongside others in the community.

She said they aimed to provide the opportunity for young people to display their talents and inspire others to share their voices and talents too.

Their will be a range of acts, from poetry writers to bands and singer-songwriters and the showcase will be hosted by a student MC. 

Richards said the best thing about the event was that there would be no guidelines or restrictions for the students so they will be able to "express themselves as they wish". 

Ara Taiohi, the main fund holder for Youth Week grants, received $55,000 from the Ministry of Youth Development and $10,000 from Sport NZ for events and have funded 67 of them.

Zintl said they were excited to have events happening in every region and she hoped all youth would be reached, including those in lower decile schools, supported in youth groups in their communities. 

To find more out more on Youth Week, click here .

"We encourage all people in Aotearoa to take the part in Youth Week and to listen and hear young people in your worlds." - Jane Zintl, Ara Taihoi
Cheviot School celebrates Youth Week