Organisers of the Youth Forum held on Rarotonga today have described the event as a resounding success with the participation of more than 140 young people sharing their ideas and discussing solutions that support youth facing the challenges and difficulties of life.
Steering group chair, Vania Kenning said feedback from young people from Rarotonga and the sister islands had responded enthusiastically and positively to discussions which focused on the stresses and pressures facing young people; support people they would turn to for help and advice; the warning signs their peers may exhibit when they are in stressful situations; and how to support each other in their time of need.
"Many of the youth got a lot out of the day," she said. "They have enjoyed having a safe space to talk in confidence about a range of topics they don't get to discuss openly amongst themselves or with older people such as the 30-strong facilitation and volunteer team that has been working with them today."
The Forum began with a rousing address by the Deputy Prime Minister Hon Tom Marsters who told attendees that life sometimes might seem difficult and have its share of challenges but he encouraged those present to always Choose Life.
Minister Marsters was supported by the Minister of Education Hon Teina Bishop and the New Zealand High Commissioner John Carter.
The discussions were interspersed with interactive games as well as role plays and an art session designed to get youth to create a slogan and phrase that would help get the message out to their peers that every life does matter and that help is available.
"The message from young people here today - to each other and to families and the wider community is that it is important to talk and seek support as challenges come up, and not to be afraid to seek help because every time we talk to a friend we lighten their and our own load," said Vania Kenning.
"This Forum was for young people and they definitely claimed it and made it their own space. Their wealth of knowledge, opinions and views have been heard and will be critical to making policy and programmes that support their wellness and their future."
For further information contact Vania Kenning tel. 51664