Howick Youth Council’s fresh perspective

The Howick Youth Council with Howick Local Board members. The youth council presented young people’s ideas to solve issues around transport, equity, the environment, and well-being to the board on July 24. Photo: Irra Lee.

Last week the young people of Howick had their voices heard by the Howick Local Board.

The Howick Youth Council presented young people’s solutions to the community’s most pressing issues to local board members in a workshop last Tuesday.

The Howick Youth Council operates under the Howick Local Board to ensure voices of youth are heard and hoped bringing attention to young people’s ideas will guide the local board’s future decisions, says youth council chairperson Zachary Wong.

During the workshop the youth council handed over a set of recommendations written by local students covering issues of the environment, transport, equity, mental and physical well-being, and civic participation.

“We think it’s really important that the voices of young people are heard by our decision-makers. We’re really excited that we’ve got a document that represents the wishes and the aspirations of young people on some really important issues affecting them,” says Wong.

“We’re hopeful that the local board will be able to implement some of the suggestions these young people have put forward.”

Solutions included in the document came from discussions among local high school students that took place at the Howick Youth Council’s annual youth summit in May.

Students were given a chance to hear from experts in each of the topics, Wong says, and use this information to help guide their recommendations.

Students were also asked to vote on different commendations to determine which were most widely supported.

“These recommendations are all a true reflection of what young people in our community think and how they want to see community’s issues handled. The Howick Youth Council was just there to facilitate writing the final document,” he says.

“This is the first time we have ever worked with the Howick Local Board and recommended real change in the community. Nothing like this has ever been done before in our area so it’s really good to hear what people want to see happen in our community and be able to help bring that to life.”

The youth council handed over 35 recommendations to the board.

The main recommendations were:

  • Accreditation for retailers and local companies for their commitment to reducing their environmental impact to address how businesses affect New Zealand’s environment.
  • Address the lack of awareness and understanding of mental wellbeing by developing a community symbol, campaign or event.
  • Provide short courses on life skills to better prepare youth for their transition into adulthood.
  • Make civics education accessible for young people by integrating talks and discussions in schools.