#29 Be. Young Be. You 2

Hey guys!

Be. Young Be. YouBy the time you read this, it will all be over, but Happy Youth Week! I hope the young among us (and the young at heart!) have taken the time to check out some of the awesome youth-focused events happening right across the country. From discos, to skate jams, to free barbecues, there’s been something for everyone everywhere.

I know it’s a pretty crazy time of year with the semester coming to an end, meaning essays need to be written, assignments done, and exams sat, but I really encourage you to get out there and involved in everything that’s going on, since these opportunities only come ‘round every once in a while, and we all need something to procrastinate with. I myself am using this as a way to procrastinate from the law essay I should be writing, but which I gave up on when I realised that the word “tortuous” doesn’t quite have the same meaning as “tortious” – says it all really!

We Speak posterIn between all the procrastinating … err, I mean, studying, I’ve been involved in organising some of Christchurch’s Youth Week events; the biggest of these being WE Speak, an annual conference run by the Otautahi Youth Council, of which I am a member, through the White Elephant Trust. The focus is to bring hundreds of Christchurch young people, aged 12-24, together for a day to network, information share and ultimately, to give them the tools to create change in the Canterbury community. This year, we’ve got a whole bunch of awesome speakers, workshops, and activities lined up, including a workshop on Coralie Winn’s Gap Filler, how to run youth events and projects, how to get funding for those projects, how to write submissions, how to have more of a voice in politics, and how to make sure youth know their legal rights.

Speakers include Jason Pemberton from the iconic Student Volunteer Army and CERA CEO Roger Sutton, who will be presented with a whole lot of tangible solutions young people at the conference have come up with to implement in the rebuild process. Mayor Bob is also planning to pop on down, and we’re going to have a “speed dating” session (yes, seriously) with some MPs over lunch. All FREE!

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned the free pizza lunch and the spot prizes, have I?! There’ll be a chance to win free phones from Skinny, and possibly best of all, to win a 30 minute coffee date with the Mayor himself!

At this stage you’re probably wondering why I just told you all of that when by the time you read it, WE Speak will have become “WE Spoke”, but the point I’m trying to make here is, there is so much more to life as a young person than studying towards some sort of qualification or working during the week and studying the wine list on weekends. I get so much value from all of the extra-curricular things I’m involved in – from organising conferences like WE Speak, to being vice president of the Christchurch chapter of an awesome worldwide community engagement and leadership development organisation called JCI (more on this next time!), to working on projects like the International Network for Young Disabled People written about in the last newsletter (have you said which name you’d prefer yet? Because if not, you should!).

It is hard work and it does impact on my studies, but I get to meet such a range of wonderful diverse people, contribute positively to my community, and ultimately, to just have heaps of fun doing it! The only complaint I have is that not enough people are taking advantage of the opportunity to come along to such events when such hard a lot of time and effort has gone into organising them.

So basically, stop reading this and get amongst it! Get in touch with your local Youth Council, get involved in some clubs, contact your local volunteer agency and just get out there and do things. Whether you’re sixteen or sixty, you individually, your life as a whole, and your community will be better for it.

Keep young and you.