Many ways to get involved, youth leader says

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By Central Otago Awards 2017 Youth Award recipient James Sutherland, of Alexandra.

The Central Otago Awards are an awesome opportunity to recognise some of the youth in our community who are being positive game-changers.

This year we had Alex Darling, who is involved in many community activities, including [anti-cyberbullying project] Sticks ‘n Stones (SNS), and his cousin Sam, who is a local piper and gives back to his community through teaching others.

These two young men do an amazing job in their community and equally deserved the award.

SNS was where my community involvement first started, as a junior advocate, and since then I have been given the opportunity to become a board member and also been involved in many other local community organisations, such as Alexandra Youth Base’s senior youth forum and the Otago Suicide Prevention Trust.

At the moment SNS is updating and rebranding its website to become more modern and streamlined. SNS is also launching a new tool called “Icon”. Icon, meaning “In case of online negativity”, was founded by SNS member Keryn Tubbs and is a free web app to troubleshoot when things go wrong online.

It is being launched in October and is an awesome app that the tech-savvy youth of today can have on their phones and use when situations go wrong on the web.

For those youth out there that want to be involved in their communities, you can find opportunities everywhere.

Get involved in your school, such as student council or New Zealand Model United Nations, or have a look at the Volunteering Central page and see what is going on there. The Youth Base has opportunities on its Facebook page, like the Youth Radio.

Getting involved can lead to further achievements. For example, Ashleigh Smith, from Ranfurly, started in SNS and has now won a Queen’s Young Leader Award and is on an advisory panel to the Ministry of Education. From a school of fewer than 200 pupils she is now on the international stage, spreading the word of youth.

and that we could all take from.

For the future, I will be going to the University of Otago and studying for a bachelor of arts in political science, geography and international relations.

Out of this, I hope to go into politics or work overseas in embassies and the United Nations.