I’ve been considering youth health issues in the region recently – and the double tragedies this week with two young people taking their lives and others trying make these issues absolutely urgent.
Some things we know about young people in the Gisborne District:
– 5,540 (56%) of young people in the region identify themselves as Maori, 3% as Pacific and 2% Asian
– Tairawhiti has the highest number of active young people per head of population (SPARC 2006)
– Tairawhiti has one of the highest rates of obesity amongst children and young people in the country (MOH)
– Tairawhiti has the second highest rate of youth suicide in New Zealand (MOH)
– Tairawhiti has one of the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections in the country (MOH)
– Tairawhiti has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and births to teenage mothers in the country (Statistics NZ, 2001-2005)
– 1 in 3 young people in Gisborne think that faith and/or spirituality are important (TYDS, 2003)
– Less than one in ten young people in Gisborne feel that anyone other than their peers and immediate family are willing to listen to them (TYDS, 2003)
I am passionate about making Tairawhiti an awesome place to grow up – where every young person can reach their full potential because they know they belong here, know what they are good at, have a sense of responsibility and make a positive contribution to their community – and because they have access to the support and resources they need.
I would like every safe and caring adult in the region to be able to identify and commit to supporting one or two young people who may not have adequate role-models in their life.
I would like to see strong inter-generational connections within and between families and neighbourhoods – where young people seek the wisdom of their elders and are empowered to see new visions for the future based on the lessons learned from older generations.
I would like to see the institutions (especially families and schools) charged with raising the next generation take their calling seriously – working to bring out the best, focusing on the positive contributions and endless energy young people have to offer.